Monkey Cheese

Can a monkey own a technology copyright?

This image, provided by PETA, is a court exhibit in a case that states the photographer should be granted copyrights to the image, and therefore, receive monetary damages, because the photograph was used on the cover of a wildlife book.

Monkey CheeseThe catch? The photographer, is a macaque monkey (Naruto) who lives on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Reportedly, the monkey took this selfie using a camera that belonged to David Slater, a wildlife photographer.

A lawsuit was filed by PETA in San Francisco, on September 22, 2015.  Slater states that he should be the copyright holder of the photograph, because (1) he setup the camera so that the photograph could be taken, and (2), he was the owner of the camera, and the “intellect” behind the photograph.

PETA claims that Naruto should own the copyrights to the photograph, and should receive any benefits that are gained from the photograph, which was used on the cover of a wildlife book. PETA stated that macaque monkeys are a critically endangered species, and that their numbers have decreased by around 90%, over the past 25 years.

PETA also sought a court order that would grant both PETA and Dr. Antje Engelhardt (a primatologist), the rights to administer Naruto’s benefits, on the condition that all benefits would be used specifically for the benefit of Naruto, his family, and community. The benefits would be used to help preserve Naruto’s habitat.

So the question is, can a monkey be granted photographic copyrights?

In my opinion, I agree with PETA to some extent. Since Naruto did take the photograph, I think it would be nice to see some of the proceeds of this photograph, which was used as a selling point, on the cover of a wildlife book, go back to Naruto, in order to help preserve the habitat where Naruto lives.

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