A photographer has won a legal fight with an animal rights group to claim ownership of a now iconic “monkey selfie” photograph.
Naruto the monkey snapped the image when it picked up Welsh nature photographer David Slater’s camera in the Indonesian jungle in 2011.
What ensued was a two-year lawsuit before a US federal court after The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sued Mr Slater on the monkey’s behalf, seeking financial control of the photographs for the benefit of the monkey.
The lawsuit ended in a settlement on Monday after Judges found copyright protection could not be applied to the monkey.
Under the deal, Mr Slater agreed to donate 25 per cent of any future revenue to registered charities “dedicated to protecting the welfare or habitat of Naruto”, PETA and Mr Slater said in a joint statement.
“Peta’s groundbreaking case sparked a massive international discussion about the need to extend fundamental rights to animals for their own sake, not in relation to how they can be exploited by humans,” PETA lawyer Jeff Kerr said.
They said in the joint statement that the case “raises important, cutting-edge issues about expanding legal rights for non-human animals”.
Mr Slater’s lawyers argued that his company, Wildlife Personalities Ltd., owns worldwide commercial rights to the photos, including the now-famous selfie of the Naruto’s toothy grin.
Mr Slater argued that he engineered the photographs in 2008 by travelling to an Indonesian jungle, spending three days with a troupe of monkeys to gain their trust and deliberately making his camera accessible to the animals to take photographs.
A lower court ruled in the photographer’s favour, saying that animals could not hold copyrights. The Ninth Circuit was considering PETA’s appeal.
The lawyers notified the appeals court on August 4 that they were nearing a settlement and asked the Ninth Circuit not to rule.