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posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday September 13, @04:28AM   Printer-friendly
from the monkey-business dept.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and wildlife photographer David Slater have reached a settlement over the ownership of a photograph taken by an Indonesian macaque monkey named Naruto:

PETA; photographer David Slater; his company, Wildlife Personalities, Ltd.; and self-publishing platform Blurb, Inc., have reached a settlement of the "monkey selfie" litigation. As a part of the arrangement, Slater has agreed to donate 25 percent of any future revenue derived from using or selling the monkey selfies to charities that protect the habitat of Naruto and other crested macaques in Indonesia.

According to a joint statement, "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."

General Counsel for PETA Jeff Kerr told the New York Times that he did not know how much money Slater made on the photos in the past, but also that PETA is glad Naruto will benefit from the images in the future.

A federal judge previously dismissed the case, but PETA appealed. PETA has dropped its appeal so the question of nonhuman ownership of "intellectual property" will not be answered by a higher court.

Also at Ars Technica.

Previously: Monkey Selfie Case May Undo Evolution of the Web


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Monkey Selfie Case May Undo Evolution of the Web 59 comments

About six years ago photographrapher David Slater was taking pictures of monkeys and got a monkey to take a selfie with his equipment. The case has been in and out of court over copyright issues because while it was Slater's equipment and he set up the situation some claim that it is the monkey who holds copyright over the image while others claim that no one at all has copyright over the image. A serious attempt is being made to use the case to push for copyright and other ownership rights for non-humans. The image is now being use to try to force the issue of non-human rights, using methods that might do a lot of damage along the way.

Ars Technica is about the only site to notice so far. They write that the case is no laughing matter. PETA's quest for animals to own property could end the web as we know it. Specifically this image has become relevant to the future of the WWW and the Internet because the strategy chosen involves first asserting that companies that supply tools for people to self-publish their own works can be held liable for the content posted or uploaded by third parties.


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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by fustakrakich on Wednesday September 13, @05:07AM (5 children)

    by fustakrakich (6150) on Wednesday September 13, @05:07AM (#567077) Journal

    Any judge that would hear this case should be thrown off the bench and into the jungle.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by edIII on Wednesday September 13, @05:59AM (1 child)

      by edIII (791) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday September 13, @05:59AM (#567093)

      Not at all. I applaud this judge. Now monkeys have legal standing much like corporations are people, which means they can be sued and have the tables turned. The victims of unprovoked poo throwing now have legal precedence to get those poo throwing bastards back.

      • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 13, @07:33AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 13, @07:33AM (#567116)

        Monkeys have had legal standing since 1865.

    • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Wednesday September 13, @02:18PM (1 child)

      by Grishnakh (2831) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday September 13, @02:18PM (#567227)

      Actually, I disagree. I think all animals should have the same legal rights as humans. After all, it makes just as much sense as granting such rights to corporations.

      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by fustakrakich on Wednesday September 13, @05:15PM

        by fustakrakich (6150) on Wednesday September 13, @05:15PM (#567298) Journal

        :-) But then why stop at animals? As long as the lawyers get paid, let's include everything in the entire universe that can afford or find representation, animate or inanimate. At least a corporation is a man made creation. Don't we have the right to bestow anything we wish upon that? Yes, both concepts are equally nonsensical, but we aren't really known for our consistency or logic, are we?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 13, @08:18PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 13, @08:18PM (#567441)

      I think it more likely that the judge might determine that the photo was created by "natural processes" and thus devoid of any IP.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 13, @05:08AM (22 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 13, @05:08AM (#567078)

    Are they the court-appointed guardian for all animals now? What would the Humane Society say?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 13, @05:13AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 13, @05:13AM (#567079)

      Wouldn't anybody who used the photograph without paying royalties have standing?

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by Mykl on Wednesday September 13, @05:34AM (2 children)

      by Mykl (1112) on Wednesday September 13, @05:34AM (#567086)

      Actually that was just one of the many problems for PETA in this case. They couldn't show that they had been appointed by the monkey as its legal representative, and therefore had no cause to be filing a case on its behalf.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by fustakrakich on Wednesday September 13, @05:44AM (1 child)

        by fustakrakich (6150) on Wednesday September 13, @05:44AM (#567091) Journal

        PETA should have been heavily fined for wasting the court's time with such a ridiculous frivolous case. The judge that took it is insane, and should be censured also.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 14, @12:55AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 14, @12:55AM (#567550)

          PETA should have been heavily fined

          The problem with the grossly authoritarian approach you suggest is that once implemented it tends to treat unimportant people like you quite poorly.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by aristarchus on Wednesday September 13, @05:38AM (15 children)

      by aristarchus (2645) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday September 13, @05:38AM (#567088) Journal

      Do Trees have Standing?" [humansandnature.org] Do try, oh standingless AC, to keep up on developments in environmental law. If corporations are persons, both monkeys and trees have a pretty good claim to the same! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sierra_Club_v._Morton [wikipedia.org]

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      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by khallow on Wednesday September 13, @05:57AM (14 children)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday September 13, @05:57AM (#567092) Journal

        If corporations are persons, both monkeys and trees have a pretty good claim to the same!

        "IF". Corporations aren't persons, they are merely treated like people with respect to certain aspects of law. And monkeys and trees are far less like corporations legally, than corporations are like people. So even if the hypothesis was true, the conclusion would still not be true.

        For purposes of this subject, general animals neither have standing to sue in court or the ability to own property. That's two things that corporations do have.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 13, @06:07AM (11 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 13, @06:07AM (#567096)

          For purposes of this subject, general animals neither have standing to...

          What about private animals?
          Or sergeant animals? Still no?
          Not even the commander in chief orange animals?

          • (Score: 0, Troll) by aristarchus on Wednesday September 13, @06:16AM (10 children)

            by aristarchus (2645) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday September 13, @06:16AM (#567097) Journal

            Easy on khallow, we are verging close in upon his sacred and closely held beliefs, and if we insist too much, he may have to lay them face to face, and realize that his entire worldview is a conundrum, a bon mot, a house of shit and straw! Carry on, khallow. Corporations are not people. Granted. And animals? Well, maybe humans do not grant that they own property, but there seems to be this monkey who begs to differ.

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            • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday September 13, @06:50AM

              by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday September 13, @06:50AM (#567105)

              Easy on khallow, we are verging close in upon his sacred and closely held beliefs, and if we insist too much, he may have to lay them face to face

              So be it, I'll stop short in insisting on answer on the General Specific [wikipedia.org] case.
              Even more so because of the series title.

            • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Wednesday September 13, @07:49AM (1 child)

              by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Wednesday September 13, @07:49AM (#567124) Homepage
              Not that /bon/ a /mot/, is it, though?
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              • (Score: 2, Funny) by aristarchus on Wednesday September 13, @07:56AM

                by aristarchus (2645) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday September 13, @07:56AM (#567127) Journal

                Did you desire a malamot? Sorry, all out of malamots, and Mastadons, too. Please check back after Brexit, when our stock may be replenished.

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            • (Score: 2, Insightful) by khallow on Wednesday September 13, @09:05AM (6 children)

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday September 13, @09:05AM (#567141) Journal

              a house of shit and straw

              I'm open to criticism that has a point to it. I'll note here that a house or other structure only has to be strong enough to withstand the forces applied to it. A house of air is quite sufficient to handle your nuisance red herrings and ad hominems. Once again, I'm struck by how irrational and low content your posts tend to be. If that is by intent, then I feel you should get a new shtick because I see this as a waste of time.

              • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Wednesday September 13, @08:34PM (5 children)

                by aristarchus (2645) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday September 13, @08:34PM (#567446) Journal

                Once again, I'm struck by how irrational and low content your posts tend to be.

                Your lack of comprehension has once again cut me to the quick, khallow! Why do you not see the reason behind my position? Remember, people who live in ass houses should not break wind.

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                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday September 13, @11:08PM (4 children)

                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday September 13, @11:08PM (#567521) Journal

                  Why do you not see the reason behind my position?

                  Because reason is not there. I would be quite fine with you stepping up your game.

                  • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Wednesday September 13, @11:25PM (3 children)

                    by aristarchus (2645) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday September 13, @11:25PM (#567527) Journal

                    None is so blind, as those who will not see. khallow, you do not see the reason, but that does not mean it is absent! I do not see how to get this across to you, because if you really do not see it, it is very hard to show it to you! I have tried whacking you upside the head, but you are a very, very stubborn ideologue!

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                    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by khallow on Thursday September 14, @02:37AM (2 children)

                      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday September 14, @02:37AM (#567590) Journal

                      I do not see how to get this across to you

                      Other people don't have this problem. So maybe you ought to learn how they do it?

                      I have tried whacking you upside the head

                      If whacking people upside the head were possible via the Internet, we would all have headaches.

                      but you are a very, very stubborn ideologue

                      And why wouldn't I be? Whether my ideology comes via rational means or not, you aren't trying an approach that has ever worked. If the ideology is irrationally derived, then the saying applies, "you can't reason a person out of a position they didn't reason themselves into." Even when they do change their minds (and believe it or not, even the most irrational often do over the course of a human lifetime), it'll often be to flip over into another irrationally held belief.

                      If it's rationally derived, then a considerable amount of thought went into the creation of the ideology. Again, it wouldn't be reversed merely because a certain philosopher has feelings. One would need a similar effort to uproot what has been done or to at least find fatal contradictions in the beliefs of the ideology. Merely rehashing old arguments or pulling assertions out of one's ass wouldn't suffice.

                      Let us note also, that this discussion of ideology is a red herring. My beliefs are not threatened by non-human animals owning property. In fact, I have already on several occasions (usually involving discussion of the Austrian School of economics) discussed non-human economics and even non-humans making economically relevant decisions in human economic systems. Owning property when possible is a natural extension of these prior activities.

                      The problem is what happens when the law entertains the conceit that an animal can own something when it can't understand the concept of property? For example, animals frequently are territorial which in a weak sense is like ownership. But a huge difference is we don't decide who owns a house on the basis of who is the bigger bear or has the better intimidation behavior. Property laws have as a major consequence that they usually protect ownership of property by the weak from the strong. Even when these laws can be gamed to take property from the weak, the rituals and forms must be observed (and they go well beyond bluffing behavior in the wild). One can't simply take. This is contrary to the usual situation found in nature where the stronger animal takes from the weaker one.

                      Thus, animal ownership by animals not smart enough to understand property rights (and respect rules that run counter to territorial conflicts in nature) will actually be done via human proxies. That opens a bunch of ideologically-invariant cans of worms such as conflicts of interest (such a position is very easy to corrupt to serve the proxy rather than the animal, no matter what belief is being considered) and ignorance (how can we understand what is best for our animal wards when we don't really understand them or for that matter the consequences of our own actions?).

                      One doesn't have to ideologically agree with me in order to be harmed by bad law exploiting animals as puppets or figureheads for corrupt schemes. My view is that such animals for the most part can't bear the burdens that we would impose on them with this sort of law. Thus, it is not a sane approach to apply human law of property to non-humans with no capacity to understand or obey.

                      • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Thursday September 14, @04:27AM (1 child)

                        by aristarchus (2645) Subscriber Badge on Thursday September 14, @04:27AM (#567637) Journal

                        Ah, an actual response! I will have to ponder this, khallow. Two initial questions: are you talking monkeys, trees, or birds? And, what exactly do you mean by "puppets" and "figureheads"?

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                        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday September 14, @01:40PM

                          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday September 14, @01:40PM (#567786) Journal

                          And, what exactly do you mean by "puppets" and "figureheads"?

                          For example, the current lawsuit of the above story was purportedly to defend the IP rights of a tribe of macaque monkeys, but the practical impact is that the self-appointed, would-be proxies for these monkeys (PETA) get a lot of cheap publicity. The monkeys are mere figureheads for a purely human scheme.

        • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Wednesday September 13, @08:00AM (1 child)

          by aristarchus (2645) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday September 13, @08:00AM (#567129) Journal

          Animals do have standing! What are you thinking, saying stuff like that with no knowledge of the relevant legal precedents? For the Birds, Palila Birds [wikipedia.org]. All they need is representation.

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          • (Score: 2, Insightful) by khallow on Wednesday September 13, @08:55AM

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday September 13, @08:55AM (#567138) Journal
            That's a pretty weak precedent particularly since it would in theory hold only for that district (Ninth District) and no basis was given for when such standing supposedly exists.
    • (Score: 2) by driverless on Wednesday September 13, @07:30PM

      by driverless (4770) on Wednesday September 13, @07:30PM (#567409)

      It's also good to see that, when dogs, cats, and other pets are left to starve to death, are abused by their owners, kept in horrific conditions, and mistreated in all sorts of ways, that PETA is prepared to throw a ton of money into a court case about a simian monkeying with a camera. Good to see they've got their priorities straight.

    • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Thursday September 14, @02:59AM

      by Reziac (2489) on Thursday September 14, @02:59AM (#567602) Homepage

      Actually, that is EXACTLY the intended goal. PETA (and the Humane Society -- HSUS is just PETA in a nice suit) wants to make all animal ownership too legally-risky for normal people. Own a dog, slaughter a steer, ride a horse -- and get sued by PETA because reasons. That's what they want, and now the court has let the camel's nose into the tent.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 13, @07:16AM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 13, @07:16AM (#567110)

    What are the reasons this was handled by a US court and not an Indonesian one? Monkey is Indonesian, place where the photo's where taken is there, and if the monkey is the legal owner of the copyrights, aren't those also based on Indonesian law?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 13, @07:34AM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 13, @07:34AM (#567118)

      A man steals your camera and takes a picture with it. Then returns it and runs away. But he sues you after you publish the photo to your tumblr weblog and it goes viral.

      Unfortunately, the monkey forgot to file the lawsuit.

      • (Score: 2) by darnkitten on Wednesday September 13, @07:43PM

        by darnkitten (1912) on Wednesday September 13, @07:43PM (#567416)

        steals your camera...Then returns it

        In other words: borrowed without asking?

        In this case, I think the copyright would lie with the photographer, though you could make a good argument that, by returning the camera without deleting or otherwise protecting the image, that the borrower gave tacit permission for the camera's owner to view, delete or otherwise use it.

        If (going with what I assume was the actual intent of your example) the camera had been recovered without the co-operation of the thief, that tacit permission would not have been given, and copyright would lie with the photographer whomever's lawyer had the deepest pockets.

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday September 13, @11:11PM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday September 13, @11:11PM (#567523) Journal

        A man steals your camera and takes a picture with it.

        As I recall, the photographer apparently went through great effort to get the monkeys in question to use the camera. The selfie in question was the best of the lot, but far from unique. That also is the basis of the photographer's copyright claim to the photograph.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 13, @07:47AM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 13, @07:47AM (#567123)

      The reason, most likely, is that an Indonesian court would have had a prolonged all-hands laugh at this suit, and then quickly and efficiently would have thrown PETAs crumpled documents into the non-recycling trash bin. Without a press conference. Much less months of continuing press coverage. And "Foreign court thinks we're a bunch of foolish kids, then ignores us" does not make for very good self-advertisements, no matter how much you spin it.

      On a personal note, I think that PETAs lawsuit had equally much standing as the photographer's claim to copyright: none. The only regrettable thing here is how long they tied up a perfectly useful court with their bullshit.

      • (Score: 1) by evilcam on Thursday September 14, @03:41AM

        by evilcam (3239) on Thursday September 14, @03:41AM (#567615)

        I genuinely feel bad for the poor bloke who had to defend this nonsense.
        He didn't make much money off of the licensing to the photo (according to Slater in an article for the Guardian it was about enough to cover the cost of the trip) and lost shitloads in legal fees, just so PETA could, what? Big up themselves for "defending" an animal that was in no way harmed or disadvantaged by the action. Hell, there was even a question over whether the right monkey was suing...

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday September 14, @01:52PM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday September 14, @01:52PM (#567796) Journal

        On a personal note, I think that PETAs lawsuit had equally much standing as the photographer's claim to copyright

        I strongly disagree on the copyright. The monkey selfies would not have happened without serious effort [wikipedia.org] on the part of the photographer.

        In 2008, British nature photographer David Slater travelled to Indonesia to take photographs of the critically endangered Celebes crested macaques. The photos were brought to wider public attention after they were publicised as monkey self-portraits by a news agency in 2011.

        To take the pictures, Slater followed a troop of macaques for three days and gained the gregarious animals' trust: "I became accepted as part of the troop, they touched me and groomed me." Slater reported that despite this close contact, he had trouble obtaining close-up shots of the monkeys' faces, as they were too nervous when approached with a camera. On the second day of his three-day shoot, Slater set up the camera on a tripod, and deliberately left the remote trigger for the camera accessible to the macaques. "I put my camera on a tripod with a very wide angle lens, settings configured such as predictive autofocus, motorwind, even a flashgun, to give me a chance of a facial close up if they were to approach again for a play. I duly moved away and bingo, they moved in, fingering the toy, pressing the buttons and fingering the lens. I was then to witness one of the funniest things ever as they grinned, grimaced and bared teeth at themselves in the reflection of the large glassy lens."

        So first, Slater, the photographer traveled to Indonesia, located and followed a troop of macaques for several days, and then contrived a situation where the monkeys might take pictures of themselves - risking some rather expensive equipment in the process. And then processed these photos so that we might view them. Meanwhile the monkeys had no idea that they were creating any sort of intellectual property. They were just playing around with this cool toy that the human brought. My view is that the copyright is quite valid and applied like it should.

  • (Score: 5, Funny) by Rivenaleem on Wednesday September 13, @08:53AM

    by Rivenaleem (3400) on Wednesday September 13, @08:53AM (#567137)

    How much did PETA charge Naturo to represent it in court? Or did they do it pro bonobos?

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