A US court has recently put an end to the legal battle over Naruto’s selfie, the Indonesian macaque which became famous for his selfie. The Court's ruling was in favour of Mr. Slater, the owner of the camera, and rejected the claims of PETA, a US non-profit organization, which supported for the monkey’s rights.
The bizarre case in 2011, when David Slater, a professional photographer, was travelling in the Indonesian wild forest to capture with his camera some of the most spectacular animal species. Slater bumped into a group of monkeys and left his camera unattended for a few moments when a photogenic macaque, Naruto, grabbed his camera and began to shoot hundreds of selfies. Some of these, as well as those of the best instagrammer, were moved and blurred, others, instead, were almost perfect. The photographer published one of the photos on his blog and immediately the image became viral. Based on a literal interpretation of American copyright law, Wikimedia, the American-owner company of the Wikipedia domain, decided to include the image in its collection of Wikimedia Commons content, a collection of over 20,000 public images and videos that can be used by the community as they are unaffected by copyrights. According to American law, the rights upon a photo are owned by its author, which is the person who took the photo and, in this case, it was a monkey. Salter opposed the free disclosure of the image he considered to be his own and he gave rise to a legal dispute over intellectual property: if a monkey takes a photo, whose is it?
Over the years, the issue has become increasingly complicated and increasingly absurd: PETA, already known for its provocative battles, filed a lawsuit in the name of Naruto, Slater and also Blurb, a publishing house that published the Wildlife Personalities book, containing many animal pictures, including Naruto’s one.
Both Slater and Blurb presented a "motion for dismissal": a document used in the US legal system in order to explaining that the case against someone is wrong and based on non-existent reason. In this document, Slater wrote, among other things, that "the only relevant fact in this case is that the plaintiff is a monkey that sue for copyright infringement." According to Salter, PETA can not prove that the famous selfie was shot by Naruto and not by another monkey.
And in fact, the judges agreed with him, ruling that he has, and the monkeys cannot own any copyright over a selfie.
Despite this, PETA and David Slater have reach an agreement: the photographer will pay 25% of the revenue generated by his copyright to the non-profit organization.