By Andrew Chung
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A rare crested macaque that took a now internationally famous “selfie” cannot own the copyright to the photograph because he is not human, a U.S. judge ruled in a suit brought by animal rights group PETA on behalf of the monkey.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals brought the case in September on behalf of the seven-year-old monkey Naruto against British photographer David Slater, who self-published the photo in a wildlife book.
Naruto, who resides on a reserve in Indonesia, took the image and several others in 2011 using a camera left unattended by Slater, the suit said. PETA argued he should be declared owner of the photos and receive damages for copyright infringement that would be used for habitat preservation.
While the U.S. Congress and the president have the power to extend legal protections to animals as well as humans, “there is no indication that they did so in the Copyright Act,” U.S. District Judge William Orrick said at a hearing on Wednesday in federal court in San Francisco, according to a court transcript.