Animal rights group says monkey owns copyright to selfies

A US-based animal rights group said that an Indonesian macaque who took photographs of himself in 2011 should hold the copyright to the images, not the photographer who owned the camera.

People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said it lodged a lawsuit with the US federal court on Tuesday, demanding that the monkey named Naruto be declared the author and owner of the “selfies.”

“The US copyright act grants copyright ownership of a selfie to the author of the photograph—and there’s nothing in the law that limits such ownership on the basis of species,” PETA said.

Professional British photographer David Slater was taking photos of macaques on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island in 2011 in when one of them grabbed his camera and took selfies.

Slater and his company Wildlife Personalities Ltd., who are among the defendants in the lawsuit, both claim copyright ownership of the photographs.

PETA US said it was requesting the court to grant it the right to manage the copyright in the photos, to license them for commercial use, and use 100 per cent of the proceeds for the benefit of Naruto and his community.

“If we prevail in this lawsuit, it will be the first time that a non-human animal is declared the owner of property, rather than being declared a piece of property himself or herself,” PETA U.S. general counsel Jeffrey Kerr said.

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