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Despite settlement, high court to rule in monkey selfie case

By Susan McFarland
Despite settlement, high court to rule in monkey selfie case
Despite a settlement between a photographer and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the U.S. Court of Appeals is is refusing to dismiss the monkey selfie copyright case. PETA contended that the photo taken with the photographer's equipment belonged to Naruto, a crested macaque monkey. Image courtesy of PETA

April 14 (UPI) -- Months after a photographer and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals settled the monkey selfie copyright case, the U.S. Court of Appeals is refusing to dismiss the case and will soon come out with an official appellate decision.

The Ninth Circuit states wariness of "abetting 'strategic behavior' on the part of institutional litigants," is reason for denying the parties' joint motion to dismiss the case, which vacates a lower court order from U.S. District Judge William Orrick III of the Northern District of California.

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The original settlement ended a two-year court battle between PETA and photographer David Slater, who agreed that 25 percent of any revenue derived from the self-portrait by Naruto, a crested macaque monkey, will be dedicated to charities protecting macaque habitats in Indonesia.

The Ninth Circuit points out in the order, filed Friday, that the court does not have to dismiss a case because all the parties agree to dismiss it, and lists reasons not to dismiss the case, including that "Naruto is not a party to the settlement agreement."

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The photograph was taken in 2011 by a Naruto, then 7. He took Slater's camera and snapped a photograph of himself with it, court documents say. PETA has contended that by republishing the photo, Naturo's copyright rights were infringed.

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After the photo was posted online it made its way to Wikimedia Commons and was uploaded as a public domain image - something the website found allowable because the monkey was the author of the photo and because monkeys are not legally capable of being authors under copyright law, the photo cannot be copyrighted.

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