3 September 2018Copyright

Ninth Circuit refuses to reconsider ‘Monkey selfie’ decision

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has refused to reconsider its decision that a monkey lacks standing to sue for copyright infringement.

The Ninth Circuit said on Friday, August 31 that it has refused a judge’s request for an en banc rehearing of the case.

“A vote was taken, and the matter failed to receive a majority of the votes of the non-recused active judges in favour of en banc consideration,” said the Ninth Circuit.

The case involves a renowned dispute over the ownership of a photograph of a Macaque monkey.

The monkey, called Naruto, took a ‘selfie’ in 2011 using photographer David Slater’s camera in Indonesia. It wasn’t long before the photo went viral.

In 2015, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals ( PETA) filed a complaint on behalf of Naruto as a ‘next friend’. The organisation argued that the photo belonged to Naruto and requested that any profits created from the photo be spent on the monkey and preserving its natural habitat.

In July last year, Slater argued before the Ninth Circuit that he had engineered the photograph by spending time with the monkey and gaining its trust. He said that he purposely made his camera accessible to the animal to take a series of photographs.

PETA and Slater entered a settlement two months later in which the parties agreed that 25% of future proceeds made from “any or all of the monkey selfies” will be donated to protecting the Macaque species in Indonesia.

The parties subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the case. However, this was denied by the Ninth Circuit in April 2018.

In that decision, the court said that Naruto lacked statutory standing as animals are not authorised to file copyright infringement suits under the Copyright Act.

The Ninth Circuit ruled that PETA could not assert ‘next friend’ status as the organisation did not demonstrate a relationship with the monkey. The court also said an animal cannot be represented by a ‘next friend’.

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