A federal judge in San Francisco has ruled that a monkey who took selfies using a nature photograhper’s camera cannot be the copyright owner of the images.
US District Judge William Orrick said on Wednesday that the macaque monkey, which is not the one pictured above, was not covered under copyright law and that only Congress and the President could change that.
British photograpger David Slater set his camera up for the 6-year-old monkey, Naruto, to snap the pictures in Sulawesi, Indonesia in 2011.
The lawsuit was brought by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) who said Naruto should be granted copyright protection as he produced the photos.
Proceeds from the photos would then be used for the monkey’s benefit.
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PETA was seeking monetary damages from Slater and the Blurb of San Francisco publishing platform which published his book Wildlife Personalities.
Slater says that the British copyright his company, Wildlide Personalities Ltd. obtained for the images should be recognised by other countries.
In the US, the pictures are considered in the public domain and have been published by a variety of media outlets.
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Last year, the U.S. Copyright Office updated its policies to include a section stipulating that animals could not qualify as copyright holders and that only works produced by humans would be granted protection.
The latest ruling confirms the Copyright Office’s policies, with Judge Orrick calling PETA’s argument “a stretch”, according to ArsTechnica.