Meet Mr. Naruto, the grinning crested black macaque from Sulawesi, Indonesia. It is a selfie fanatic.
I am sure you people must be thinking……What is the connection between some random macaque from Indonesia and Intellectual property rights…or….has the author gone crazy…or similar stuff. But there certainly is a connection…If you don’t trust me I can’t blame you.
Hence without blowing out much time, I will tell you how.
There is this debate going on about the monkey’s photo copyright. This photo originally went viral in 2011. This famous (rather infamous) “Monkey Selfie” conflict was debated during a 9th circuit Appeals court hearing in San Francisco in July 2017.
The argument here is that who owns the copyright for this photo?
Is it David Slater- the photographer, who flew to Indonesia, spent several days following and photographing a troop of macaques for this shot and later on included the pictures into his wildlife photography book?
Or is it Naruto, who pressed the button on the camera?
These images gave rise to a complicated legal battle in 2014, when Slater inculpated Wikipedia and Techdirt of copyright infringement. Slater asked these blogs to refrain from using these photographs without his permission.
These websites not only refused, Wikipedia even claimed that, since the actual creator of the image was monkey, the image is un-copyrightable. The U.S. copyright office further ruled that animals can’t be the owners of copyrights. This battle took a bizarre turn when PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) filed a suit against slater on behalf of Naruto, the monkey claiming that the animal was the rightful owner of the copyright.
A judge ruled against PETA in 2016 stating that the copyright Act doesn’t cover animals, but now again PETA is back with its appeal to the 9th circuit court. This case could prove a landmark case in deciding, whether or not someone other than a human can hold a copyright- it is a question which is long pending to get answered. Especially when we are fast progressing towards developing machines possessing Artificial Intelligence to capture and create images.
While the judgment is long awaited, the court proceeding recording can be accessed from here.
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