PETA Sues on Behalf of a Monkey for Rights to His Selfies

"Just like any other author of an original work."

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a monkey claiming that the monkey owns the rights to selfies it took.


The selfies in question were taken way back in 2011, when a monkey named “Naruto” grabbed photographer David Slater’s camera and snapped them. No matter how much time has passed, however, PETA apparently considers it just way too big of a deal to let go.

Right now, no one owns the photos. Slater has insisted that he holds the rights to the images. However, Wikimedia, which has made them available for publishing for free, maintains that no one owns them since a monkey took them and monkeys are not covered under copyright law — which is exactly what PETA has a problem with.

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

Kerr told CNET that PETA has no selfish intentions in filing this lawsuit — it’s all about “protecting the intellectual property rights of Naruto . . . just like any other author of an original work.”

#share#PETA is demanding “monetary damages as well as an injunction banning the sale or publication” of the photos, as well as permission “as ‘next friend’ to Naruto . . . to manage the copyright of the photos, license them for commercial use, and use 100 percent of the proceeds for the benefit of Naruto and his community.”

How PETA determined that Naruto considers them friends is unclear.

The lawsuit was filed in a San Francisco federal court on Monday.

— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review.

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