PETA Sues Man into Bankruptcy over Monkey Selfie

How can an animal own anything? Shaking my head. Via IFLscience

The laws of the jungle are often brutal, but so it seems are those of copyright. For years a wildlife photographer has been dragged through the courts in America over whether or not he owns the copyright to a photograph of a monkey, who supposedly took the image itself.

Now, the case is being taken to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who claim to be representing the monkey, and the poor photographer is basically bankrupt. While judges have previously ruled that the monkey cannot own the copyright, PETA has appealed against these decisions.

The battle for ownership of the photo began years ago, when the now infamous portrait of a black Sulawesi crested macaque was posted on Wikipedia without a license. The photographer, David Slater, objected stating that they were stealing his picture, only for Wikipedia to counter that it was, in fact, the monkey’s own work.

After that, PETA decided to take up the case and represent the monkey after Slater used the image in a book of his wildlife photographs, suing both Slater himself and the publishers for breaching copyright laws. PETA sought a court order to administer any proceeds earned by the image on behalf of the monkey, and use it for the conservation of the species, despite having no previous interactions or demonstrable interest in them.  

And so started the long, drawn out, distressing, and mostly downright ludicrous legal battle over who owns the “monkey selfie” image. PETA argues that the monkey that took the photo of itself by pressing the button knew what it was doing and so has artistic ownership of the photo. Slater, on the other hand, says that he spent three days in the forest gaining the monkeys’ trust, and setting the cameras up that eventually resulted in the selfie taking place, and that it would not have occurred without his input.

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