Lawsuit claims monkey's copyright over selfie

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PETA Sues to Give Monkey Copyright Ownership of Selfie

In 2011, a macaque monkey named Naruto approached a camera that a wildlife photographer positioned and took its own selfie with it. This simple act turned into a major debate within the photographic and animalistic communities over who own the rights over the photograph.

This 2011 photo provided by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) shows a selfie taken by a macaque monkey on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi with a camera that was positioned by British nature photographer David Slater. The photo is part of a court exhibit in a lawsuit filed by PETA in San Francisco on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, which says that the monkey, and not Slater, should be declared the copyright owner of the photos. Slater has argued that, as the �intellect behind the photos,� he is the copyright owner since he set up the camera so that such a photo could be produced if a monkey approached it a pressed the button. (David Slater/Court exhibit provided by PETA via AP)

We might have reached a breaking point on the issue that has been dragged for years since it first surfaced, with a new lawsuit that wants to make the monkey the owner of the rights. The lawsuit was filed by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), which explained the importance of taking such position:

If this lawsuit succeeds, it will be the first time that a nonhuman animal is declared the owner of property (the copyright of the "monkey selfie"), rather than being declared a piece of property himself or herself. It will also be the first time that a right is extended to a nonhuman animal beyond just the mere basic necessities of food, shelter, water, and veterinary care.

The photographer who set up the camera shared his frustration in an interview with Time by arguing that he is the intellect behind the photograph, since he positioned the device and the monkey just pushed a button. On the other hand, PETA lawyer Jerry Kerr argued that the Copyright Office Act grants copyright to authors of original work, with no limit of species, claiming that the person who owns the right is not the one who owns the camera but the one who takes the photographs.

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