What happens when you're a wildlife photographer and a monkey finds one of your cameras and uses it to take a brilliant selfie? Well first, you would share that picture with the world because it's awesome in it's candidness. But apparently after that, PETA will sue you because they think that the rights to that selfie belong to the monkey...
This has been the sage that wildlife photographer David Slater has been dealing with since 2014. According to US copyright law, the person who takes the photograph owns the rights to the image. Well, Naruto, the Indonesian crested macaque took his own picture, but does an animal own the rights to their own work?
The ridiculous path that this story has taken over the last few years has been well documented, and THIS story has finally come to an end.
David Slater settled his case with PETA (on behalf of Naruto). He has agreed that 25% of revenue generated by this picture in the future will go to groups who protect crested macaques and their habitat in Indonesia. Both Slater and PETA asked that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals throw out an earlier decision on the copyright rights of animals. The 9th Circuit had previously stated that animals cannot own copyrights.
Crested macaques are being eaten close to extinction in Indonesia. Locals have hunted these animals for their meat for a long time, and coupled with a shrinking habitat their numbers are dwindling in some parts of their environment. Their conservation status is currently listed as Critically Endangered.
Everything else aside, this lawsuit has been frivolous and ridiculous. PETA, as usual, has taken something and blown it wildly out of proportion, making themselves look bad in the process. Hats off to David Slater, who not only went through this harrowing ordeal, but in the end still agreed to settle, handing 25% of revenue the photo generates back to the crested macaques. It begs the question, if PETA had simply asked him to use the photo in an effort to help the crested macaques, would he have? I think he would have. How about you?