Save & earn with MPB; trade-in and buy pre-loved

Can A Monkey Own Copyright?

Animal rights group PETA are filing a lawsuit on behalf of a monkey who took a selfie in 2011.

| Misc
 Add Comment

Monkey selfie

Naruto the monkey took this image using David Slater's kit.

Back in 2011, the above selfie taken by a macaque monkey called Naruto in Sulawesi, Indonesia went viral. 

There was a lot of discussion at the time as to who owned the copyright of the image - the photographer, David Slater, whose equipment it was, or the monkey? In 2014, the US Copyright Office ruled that the image can't be copyrighted, under the grounds that only works created by a human can be copyrighted. 

Now, animal rights activists PETA has filed a lawsuit claiming that the monkey owns the images. Their argument is that US copyright law doesn't prohibit an animal from owning copyright and as a result, Naruto the monkey owns the copyright like any human would. 

PETA say that they want to see proceeds from the photos be used for the benefit of the monkey and other crested macaques living in a reserve in Indonesia.

It'll be interesting to see how this case turns out - if PETA succeed, Naruto the monkey will be the first non-human to own the copyright of an image.

What are your views? Should a photographer own rights to an image taken by an animal because his kit was used? Let us know in the comments below. 

MPB Start Shopping

Support this site by making a Donation, purchasing Plus Membership, or shopping with one of our affiliates: Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon CA, ebay UK, MPB. It doesn't cost you anything extra when you use these links, but it does support the site, helping keep ePHOTOzine free to use, thank you.


Other articles you might find interesting...

16 Quirky Christmas Gifts For Photographers
26 Top Photography Christmas Gifts For Children & Teenagers
20 Essential Landscape & Outdoor Photography Gear Suggestions
CamRanger 2 Gets Firmware Update To Expand Camera Compatibility
Samsung Introduce 870 EVO SSD Series
Tether Tools Update For Smart Shooter 4 Lightroom Classic Plug-In
Meike Release A6600 Pro Battery Grip For The Sony A6600
Meike Launch New Metal Grip For Fujifilm X-Pro 3



meyeview 13 1.4k 1 United Kingdom
23 Sep 2015 2:29PM
PETA should get a life.
they are a group of people whose priorities are so far removed from reality.
mikesavage 20 299 2 England
23 Sep 2015 5:44PM
A lot of the animal rights bunch don't so much love animals as hate people.
meyeview 13 1.4k 1 United Kingdom
23 Sep 2015 5:59PM
if you set up a camera trap and an animal triggers the camera does that mean that the animal owns the copyright?
usually no one is present therefore the animal must be judged to have taken the image.

i hope PETA can afford to take hundreds of photographers to court to gain the copyright on behalf of the animals.

animals are suffering much worse all over the world. PETA should concentrate on the real problems rather than the stupidity of this case.
HUFC 9 1.0k United Kingdom
23 Sep 2015 8:05PM
If the monkey is killed or dies does his next of kin get the copyright?
Cymrucwtch 7 55 Wales
23 Sep 2015 8:55PM
Do Apple own copyright if you use an iphone to remotely trigger a camera?

(Leaves by nearest exit☺Wink
gingerdougie 15 67 United Kingdom
23 Sep 2015 10:11PM
oooooo aaaaa ooooo!
parallax 13 204 United Kingdom
24 Sep 2015 1:25AM
Naruto's made a monkey out of all of us!Wink
I wonder to whom Peta were intending that the money should go to?? The photographer now has a copyrighit registered in the UK. PETA might like to train it's righteous outrage on Ivory poachers and fur trappers instead of hunting down benign human wildlife photographers for use as PR fodder.
alan53 15 United Kingdom
24 Sep 2015 11:16AM
If I used a triggered set up at a tennis tournament and it was the movement of Andy Murray’s racquet that triggered the shot, would the racquet own the copyright, and if so, where would the copyright transfer to when he smashed the racquet?

Sign In

You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join For Free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.