Ninth Circuit Rejects Monkey Copyright Claim

On Monday the Ninth Circuit ruled that animals do not have standing to sue people for breaking copyright laws. Had Congress intended for copyright protection to extend to animals, the should have expressly written it into the law, the three-judge panel concluded.

This particular case involved a crested macaque named Naruto who used wildlife photographer David John Slater’s camera to take selfies of himself in 2011. After Slater published the photos, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sued him in September 2015 claiming that Naruto was the rightful copyright owner of those photographs.

The district court dismissed the initial lawsuit on the grounds that a monkey lacked necessary standing. PETA appealed the ruling and argued that the U.S. Copyright Act does not specify whether the author of a work must be a human being. The case settled in July 2017, but the appeals court decided to still rule on it. Based on controlling case law and the text of the U.S. Copyright Act, the Ninth Circuit confirmed that Naruto, as a non-human animal, lacks standing to file this suit.

See Naruto et al. v. David John Slater et al. on Justia Dockets.

Additional Reading

‘Monkey Selfie’ Appellate Ruling Finds Animals Can’t File Copyright Suits, The Hollywood Reporter April 23, 2018

Monkey can’t sue for copyright infringement of selfies, 9th Circuit rules, Los Angeles Times April 23, 2018

Photo credit: create jobs 51 /