PETA Lawyers to Argue at Wednesday Hearing That Monkey Selfie Copyright Rightly Belongs to Monkey

For Immediate Release:
January 5, 2016

David Perle 202-483-7382

In September 2015, PETA filed a lawsuit asking the U.S. federal court in San Francisco to declare Naruto—a then–6-year-old, male, free-living crested macaque who is part of a group in Indonesia—the author and owner of the internationally famous monkey selfie photographs that he took sometime before 2011. Now PETA will argue its case at the upcoming hearing on January 6, challenging the defendants’ motions to dismiss the lawsuit. PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that the U.S. Copyright Act grants copyright ownership of a “selfie” to the “author” of the photograph and that there’s nothing in the law limiting such ownership on the basis of species. In this case, Naruto, who has been accustomed to cameras throughout his life, saw himself in the reflection of the lens, made the connection between pressing the shutter and the change in his reflection, and posed for the pictures he took. Proceeds from a successful claim would go to the sole benefit of Naruto and his family, whose habitat and very existence are under threat.

When:             Wednesday, January 6, 2 p.m.

Where:           450 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco

As “next friend” to Naruto and without taking compensation for itself, PETA seeks the court’s permission to manage the copyright of the photos, license them for commercial use, and use 100 percent of the proceeds to benefit of Naruto and his community.

“By granting ownership of the images to this monkey, the court has the chance, for the first time in history and in our evolving understanding of animal behavior, to declare an animal the owner of property rather than a piece of property himself,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “As PETA has asserted for years, every animal deserves legal recognition for his or her ability to play, solve problems, and form families and friendships just as binding as that of human beings.”

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind