A dispute between British photographer David Slater, animal rights group PETA, Wikipedia and self publishing platform Blurb, emerged after a crested macaque named Naruto took a picture of itself using Slater’s camera. Slater said the rights for the photo should be his, and that he had lost £10,000 in potential income from the image being treated as public domain on Wikipedia.
In 2014, the US Copyright Office ruled in favour of Slater’s company – Wildlife Personalities, updating its rules and practices to clarify that photographs and other creative works aren’t subject to copyright if they were produced by animals, plants or other parts of nature, or by “divine or supernatural beings”.
PETA, however, took a lawsuit against Slater, and demanded a US federal court declare Naruto the copyright owner. Cue a great deal of discussion about the limits of animals’ creative rights
After around two years of court battles, that case has now been quietly settled, with Slater agreeing to donate 25% of future revenues derived from monkey selfies to charities that protect the habitats of Naruto and other crested macaques.
“PETA and David Slater agree that this case raises important, cutting-edge issues about expanding legal rights for nonhuman animals, a goal that they both support, and they will continue their respective work to achieve this goal,” reads a joint-statement from the two parties.
In this case it looks like both Slater and Naruto stand to benefit from the selfie, although PETA notes it will continue to fight in the courts to establish rights for animals, including those over their “own creations”.
Image credit: David Slater and Wildlife Personalities (with a nod to Naruto)