‘Selfie monkey’ can sue again for copyright infringement

Washington, Feb 2 (IANS) The black macaque in the world-famous “monkey selfie” which it took after pressing a button on a camera owned by a wildlife photographer four years ago in Indonesia has another chance to fight for the copyright ownership, media reported.

“The organisation [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals] has means to amend — meaning that if it wants, PETA can try yet again to get damages from nature photographer David Slater and the self-publishing company Blurb, Inc,” a report on motherboard.vice.com said.

The situation has been uneasy for Slater as he is claiming the photo to be his but entities like Wikimedia contested this claim, “concluding that the selfie is in public domain because it was taken by a non-human”.

Animal rights organisation PETA has taken Slater to court, claiming that the monkey selfies are neither in public domain nor the property of the photographer — in fact, they belong to the black macaque named Naruto.

“The attorney for Naruto, David A. Schwarz, suggested that a ruling in favour of the macaque would be a progressive step forward similar to women’s emancipation or the liberation of the slaves,” the report said.

After a recent hearing, although the judge ultimately dismissed the lawsuit, PETA was given leave to file an amended complaint — meaning that Naruto the macaque will have a second shot at claiming his copyright.

In September last year, PETA filed a lawsuit in the federal court in San Francisco against Slater and his company, Wildlife Personalities Ltd., which both claim copyright ownership of the photos that Naruto indisputably took.

The macaque is known to field researchers in Sulawesi who have observed and studied him for years as they work in the region.

In 2011 in Indonesia, Slater left an unattended camera on a tripod.

That was tempting for a curious male crested black macaque who took the camera and began taking photographs — some of the forest floor, some of other macaques and several of himself, one of which resulted in the now-famous “monkey selfie”.

PETA has not yet decided whether it will file an amended complaint, the report said.

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