The Wall Street Journal: Appeals court rejects copyright protection for monkey’s selfie

This selfie of an Indonesian crested macaque named Naruto quickly went viral.

Copyright ownership isn’t monkey business.

That is what a federal appellate court ruled Monday, in denying the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ request to bring copyright claims on behalf of a macaque monkey.

The animal-rights organization sued a wildlife photographer in 2015, claiming he shouldn’t own the copyright for a series of selfies snapped four years prior by an Indonesian monkey named Naruto. PETA argued Naruto himself is the copyright owner of the photos, which capture the black-haired crested macaque grinning broadly at the camera, amber eyes blazing.

Read: PETA, photographer settle lawsuit over monkey selfie

But animals have no legal ability to hold copyright claims, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in its decision, which also questioned PETA’s motives in bringing the case. “PETA seems to employ Naruto as an unwitting pawn in its ideological goals,” the court wrote in a footnote.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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