Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Friday, July 14, 2017

Remember that selfie of the grinning monkey way back in 2014? It was taken by an Indonesian crested macaque named Naruto using the camera of wildlife photographer David Slater. And it is at the heart of a long-running copyright case that's now ended up before the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court in San Francisco. Why? Because it's not entirely clear who owns the copyright. Is it David Slater -- who flew to Indonesia, set up the shot and included the resulting picture in a book of his wildlife images? Or is it Naruto, who actually pressed the button on the camera (although perhaps unwittingly)?

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According to US copyright law, the person who took the picture is the copyright owner -- but then there is the small matter that Naruto is also a monkey. There's nothing in copyright law that says a monkey, or any animal, can't hold copyright, but then there's nothing that says they can, either.

In that sense, the case could decide whether someone other than a human can hold copyright -- something that could have significant implications in future as computers use artificial intelligence to capture and create images.

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If Naruto becomes the copywriter holder of the photo, then there will be many elephant painters claiming royalty checks for their original works of art.

#1 | Posted by GOnoles92 at 2017-07-13 10:51 AM | Reply

I'd warn the 9th Circuit to be cautious, but they're the most liberal court in the US, so I'd be talking to a wall.

Here's the thing: PETA (who brought the suit) doesn't give a crap about whether that monkey owns his own picture. What PETA is hoping to do is get the court to rule that the monkey can own a copyright, which extends legal personage to the monkey. PETA wants this win so that they can use this case as a precedent in follow-on efforts to extend similar legal recognition and associated protections to every other kind of animal. If a monkey can hold a copyright, then a monkey in a cage is kidnapping and a cow in a dairy is slave labor and a beef slaughterhouse is just a murder-a-torium.

#2 | Posted by MUSTANG at 2017-07-13 10:54 AM | Reply


@#2 ... What PETA is hoping to do is get the court to rule that the monkey can own a copyright, which extends legal personage to the monkey. ...

I'm of a similar opinion. A 'nose in the tent' type of thing.

The case was brought to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals probably for the same reason patent trolls use East Texas ... leanings toward a favorable outcome.

#3 | Posted by lamplighter at 2017-07-13 11:00 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

I believe the holder would be Mahashi Kishimoto, owner of the trademark on the manga "Naruto", after which, I believe, the monkey was named.

#4 | Posted by RevDarko at 2017-07-13 11:00 AM | Reply

This line of thought is one of the stupidest to come down the pike. An animal cannot be a human because of the simple idea that an animal cannot discharge the responsibilities of a human.
If the monkey wins the copyright will he sign contracts, pay taxes, hire a staff? No, because he does not understand any of those concepts.
If animals are human, then let them loose in the streets to take care of themselves, just like any other human.

#5 | Posted by TFDNihilist at 2017-07-13 05:29 PM | Reply

"An animal cannot be a human because of the simple idea that an animal cannot discharge the responsibilities of a human.

If the monkey wins the copyright will he sign contracts, pay taxes, hire a staff?"

Flawed reasoning. Plenty of humans can't do that either. Yet they can own a copyright (even if someone must administer it and/or other property on their behalf).

#6 | Posted by DirkStruan at 2017-07-13 08:52 PM | Reply

Well then, why not grant this status to cars or my house? How about ants, lets give them rights.

#7 | Posted by TFDNihilist at 2017-07-14 07:49 AM | Reply


@#5 ... If animals are human, then let them loose in the streets to take care of themselves, ...

Not a good idea.

#8 | Posted by LampLighter at 2017-07-14 12:38 PM | Reply

"Well then, why not grant this status to cars or my house?"

Because they are nonliving.

#9 | Posted by DirkStruan at 2017-07-14 12:45 PM | Reply

I think that it should be ruled that the photo is in public domain. That no one owns the copyright. That the work is, due to the circumstances of its creation, un-copyrightable.

This would set a good precedent for certain works, by their nature, being un-copyrightable. Which I believe could be extended to a lot of the current copyrights and patents.

#10 | Posted by gtbritishskull at 2017-07-14 01:23 PM | Reply

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What? No Obama jokes?

I am disappointed.

#11 | Posted by donnerboy at 2017-07-14 01:59 PM | Reply

If David Slater owned the phone and setup the circumstances so the monkey would tap to take the photo, then I think he should have the copyright. If the monkey had a handler or even if the monkey were a model paid to do it, he would still own the copyright. Animals act in movies all the time, but their handlers make the money.

#12 | Posted by LEgregius at 2017-07-14 02:02 PM | Reply

Enough with the Trump threads already.

#13 | Posted by moder8 at 2017-07-14 02:43 PM | Reply | Funny: 1

#11 | Posted by donnerboy
Obama has people to take his selfies.

#14 | Posted by Federalist at 2017-07-14 06:53 PM | Reply

This just shows how far over the cliff we have gone.

#15 | Posted by Prolix247 at 2017-07-14 07:37 PM | Reply

This just shows how far over the cliff we have gone.

#15 | POSTED BY PROLIX247 AT 2017-07-14 07:37 PM | FLAG:

Why so glum? Surely even a conservative should see our efforts to broaden the sphere of ethical consideration as a good thing (the merits of this particular case aside)!

#16 | Posted by DirkStruan at 2017-07-14 08:19 PM | Reply

Can he now sue PETA for damages and wasting his time?

#17 | Posted by Tor at 2017-07-15 12:04 AM | Reply

Can he now sue PETA for damages and wasting his time?

#17 | POSTED BY TOR AT 2017-07-15 12:04 AM | FLAG:

Who says that is what they are doing?

#18 | Posted by DirkStruan at 2017-07-15 12:17 AM | Reply

Meanwhile, in Indonesia, Naruto the crested macaque doesn't give a single, solitary f--k.

I'm with Naruto.

#19 | Posted by et_al at 2017-07-15 12:53 AM | Reply

I'm with Naruto.

#19 | POSTED BY ET_AL AT 2017-07-15 12:53 AM | FLAG:

What's the matter, Etsy? This case less like the kind of Lexus Nexus searching you are used to and more like actual thinking? I can see how that would make you uncomfortable.

#20 | Posted by DirkStruan at 2017-07-15 03:24 AM | Reply

For God's sake Dirk, it's going to be a long time before we have an AI that declares it's a citizen and demands rights, and a lot longer for monkeys.

#21 | Posted by HeliumRat at 2017-07-15 08:39 AM | Reply

The only thing that complicates the decision is the camera was not owned by the monkey. Otherwise, the person that owns the monkey would own the copyright. If the monkey was not owned, the copyright would belong to the person that owned the camera because the monkey could not challenge the claim of the camera's owner. Now, if the monkey was not owned but was represented by someone, the representative could challenge the claim of the camera's owner and should prevail.

In the camera's owner does not end up with exclusive ownership of the copyright, the camera's owner should negotiate for part ownership and a fair share of the proceeds resulting from that partial ownership.

#22 | Posted by FedUpWithPols at 2017-07-15 10:12 AM | Reply

Why not? It has now been proven an orangutan can marry three models and sucker millions into voting for him.

#23 | Posted by e1g1 at 2017-07-17 07:36 AM | Reply

The very idea that this monkey can own the picture is idiotic, so I'm sure the 9th circuit will say that it can.

For decades researchers and hunters have been using camera traps to take pictures of animals. Essentially the animals are taking pictures of themselves by tripping the motion sensor.

#24 | Posted by jamesgelliott at 2017-07-17 07:46 AM | Reply

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