Apr 25, 2018

A U.S. appeals court issued a scathing opinion finally dismissing the famous monkey selfie lawsuit.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that non-humans cannot hold copyright in a ruling handed down Monday, dealing a major blow to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The animal rights group sued photographer David Slate in 2015 for copyright infringement over a selfie taken by a monkey using Slater’s equipment. PETA claimed that Naruto, the monkey, owned the rights to the photo. Slater and PETA reached a settlement earlier this year, with both parties then moving to dismiss the case—a beneficial outcome for PETA, which wanted to end the suit in a way that avoided unfavorable precedent. But the Ninth Circuit took the remarkable step of refusing to dismiss the suit last week so the U.S. appeals court could issue a ruling. Reading the opinion, it is clear why. Judge Carlos Bea, writing for a three-judge panel, not only found Naruto lacked standing to sue, but excoriated PETA, which was representing the animal, for settling then attempting to dismiss the suit. As it is put in the decision, “In the wake of PETA’s proposed dismissal, Naruto is left without an advocate, his supposed ‘friend’ having abandoned Naruto’s substantive claims in what appears to be an effort to prevent the publication of a decision adverse to PETA’s institutional interests.”