No copyright for monkeys

California court dismissed PETA lawsuit on behalf of macaque monkey


What had once been considered “an uphill battle”, turned out an unpromising endeavor: a monkey is an animal, not a human being. Yet only human beings are eligible to acquire a copyright under the Copyright Act. Judge William Orrick III of the Northern District of California left no doubts on the non-applicability of the Copyright Act in the case of the macaque monkey taking a self-portrait photograph.


The Berkeley solo Andrew Dhuey had anticipated this decision among others, pointing out that animals generally do not have standing to sue: “Unless Congress has plainly stated that animals have standing to sue, the federal courts will not read any legislation to confer statutory standing to animals.”


The lawsuit had been filed by PETA on behalf of the macaque monkey, better known as Naruto, seeking the monkey to be declared the copyright owner, rather than the nature photographer David Slater who had positioned the camera. PETA had claimed that all benefits arising from the sale and distribution should be assigned to the monkey with PETA using the money to preserve Naruto’s habitat on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
Best regards
und viele Grüße aus Charlotte
Reinhard von Hennigs