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macaque selfie

Oh, PETA, their good intentions could pave a trans-Atlantic highway, but on occasion they head up a cause that just seems so outwardly silly. Their most recent fight comes in the form of a suit PETA filed in San Francisco to have a macaque monkey named Naruto declared copyright owner of the selfies he took with photography equipment.

British Nature photographer David Slater met Naruto the monkey in 2011 on a trip to Indonesia. He had left his photography set up unattended and came back to find the monkey taking a number of selfies with it. The photos were posted online and became an internet sensation. They were also included in a book published by Slater titled "Wildlife Personalities." As the photos have also been used on Wikipedia and other websites, Slater has been fighting to state his copyright of them. However, the websites contend that because the photos were not taken by a human, there is no copyright holder. The Copyright Offices in both the United States and the UK both have clauses that stipulate if the media was not done by a human, it has no copyright protection.

mokey selfie
Credit: David Slater? Naruto the Macaque?

Slater is considering legal action against the websites stating that he was the “intellect behind the shots, having set up the whole thing while Naruto only pushed a button on a tripod he set up."

On the contrary to Slater's claims, Jeffery Kerr, a lawyer with PETA, states that the copyright office policy is “only an opinion.” This led to PETA's suit, which states that Naruto “authored his selfies by his own independent, autonomous actions while examining Slater’s unattended camera.”

Like with all strange PETA suits, the organization is also suing for the right to administer all copyright proceeds to benefit the 6-year-old Naruto and other macaque living on the island of Sulawesi where the photos were taken.

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