In a significant ruling, a federal judge in San Francisco has declined to give a macaque monkey the right to his famous selfie in Indonesia in 2011. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) animal rights organization had filed a lawsuit last September asking a US federal court in San Francisco to declare Naruto – a then six-year-old male, free-living crested macaque – the author and owner of the internationally famous monkey selfie photographs that he took himself a few years ago.
On Wednesday, the judge ruled that the macaque monkey cannot be declared the copyright owner of the self-portraits, Fox News reported. In an earlier statement, PETA said: “The US Copyright Act grants copyright ownership of a ‘selfie’ to the ‘author’ of the photograph, and there’s nothing in the law limiting such ownership on the basis of species”.
“Naruto has been accustomed to cameras throughout his life, saw himself in the reflection of the lens, made the connection between pressing the shutter and the change in his reflection, and posed for the pictures he took,” PETA said in a statement.
PETA had filed the lawsuit against photographer David J. Slater and his company, Wildlife Personalities Ltd., which both claim copyright ownership of the photos that the black macaque named Naruto indisputably took. Naruto is known to field researchers in Sulawesi who have observed and studied him for years as they work in the region.
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In 2011 in Indonesia, Slater left an unattended camera on a tripod. That was tempting for Naruto, a curious male crested black macaque, who took the camera and began taking photographs — some of the forest floor, some of other macaques and several of himself one of which resulted in the now-famous “monkey selfie”.