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Monkey’s Selfie at Center of Strange Copyright Dispute

Sep 23, 2015  •  Post A Comment

A “selfie” snapped by a monkey while a photographer left his camera unattended is at the center of an unusual copyright dispute.

CNN reports that the endangered crested black macaque and wildlife photographer David J. Slater are squared off in a legal fight after PETA filed a federal lawsuit in an effort to secure the monkey’s copyright to the selfie.

Slater was taking photos of crested macaques in Indonesia when he stepped away briefly, leaving his camera set up. While he was gone, the macaques snapped a series of photos.

One of the photos, taken by a monkey named Naruto, has become a popular item on the Internet, dubbed “Monkey Selfie.”

“The photos were taken in Indonesia, but PETA says a U.S. federal court in California has jurisdiction because the publisher of Slater’s book ‘Wildlife Personalities’ is based in that state,” CNN reports.

In the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, PETA argues: “While the claim of authorship by species other than homo sapiens may be novel, ‘authorship’ under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 101 et seq., is sufficiently broad so as to permit the protections of the law to extend to any original work, including those created by Naruto.”

Slater, who has worked with PETA in the past, called the suit ridiculous, writing on his Facebook page: “I am obviously bemused at PETA’s stunt but also angry as well as sad. This makes animal welfare charities look bad which saddens me, deflecting away from the animals and onto stunts like this.”

Click on the link to CNN near the top of this story to see the photo.

One Comment

  1. Has PETA really fallen this far? How is this protecting animals? Or is this another group looking for free publicity.

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