Update: PETA Files Opposition to Motions to Dismiss ‘Monkey Selfie’ Lawsuit—Photographer No Longer Claims Ownership of Photo

For Immediate Release:
December 4, 2015

Lakisha Ridley 202-483-7382

This morning, PETA submitted its response to the federal District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco opposing the defendants’ motions to dismiss the group’s lawsuit filed on behalf of Naruto and seeking to divert profits from the owner of the camera to the author of the photographs. PETA’s brief lays out the case that the Copyright Act permits a nonhuman animal to own a copyright. It also notes that, most tellingly, in the opposition’s motion, neither photographer David Slater nor his company has laid claim to ownership of the photo, contrary to their prior public assertions.

Monkey self-portrait
“Photographs don’t exist unless someone takes them, and Naruto the macaque intentionally picked up a camera, watched his reflection in the lens, and made various faces while continually pressing the shutter button, which resulted in many photos,” says Jeffrey Kerr, general counsel to PETA. “PETA’s lawsuit seeks to ensure that Naruto—who, together with his family, needs funds to preserve his homeland and stop the poaching of his species, which is currently endangered by encroachment and the bushmeat trade—will benefit from the proceeds of his photos, just as anybody who takes a photo would.”

If the group’s lawsuit is successful, PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—will seek the court’s permission to administer, without charge, the proceeds of “monkey selfie” sales for the benefit of Naruto and his community.

More information about our lawsuit is available here.

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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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