If I could sue like the animals

Canadian photographer Gregory Colbert is starting an outfit he calls the Animal Copyright Foundation whose intent is to collect royalty payments on behalf of animal species as compensation for the use in advertising of, for instance, the Budweiser Clydesdales, Target’s spotted dog, the Hartford’s stag, and other furred, finned or feathered creatures, the proceeds to be distributed to conservation causes that benefit animals. In all fairness, media accounts describe Colbert as seeking not obligatory rules requiring payment of the 1 percent royalties when a photo or video is used, but rather a “seal of approval” system in which advertisers vie for consumer favor by voluntarily pledging the set-aside. One almost hesitates to publicize the idea, however, for fear it will percolate in the law schools and emerge after a few years as an asserted new legal entitlement, as “animal standing” has done. (WSJ law blog, Mar. 16; Tim Nudd, AdFreak, Mar. 10; Lunch Over IP, Feb. 25).


  • I’m sure this idea will find favor with Steven Wise, the Harvard Law professor who wrote “Rattling the Cage: Toward Legal Rights for Animals”.

  • If trees can have standing then why not animals? After all it should be easier to communicate with a Clydesdale than with a redwood tree that, for all we know, is pining to become a picnic table but can’t communicate its wishes. It was all covered in the song “I talk to the trees, but they don’t listen to me. . . .” Life isn’t fair.

  • The Animal Copyright Foundation should distinguish advertisments where wild animals are used from the ones where non wild animals are used. If wild animals are used in advertisment and picture/movie is derived from an animation or animals living in the wild (as in a nature movie), I think it is a great idea. If wild animals are specially held for advertisement purposes in cramped cages most of the time and cannot act on their natural behaviour, it’s a bad idea. Then even the royalty paid to a good cause is as a bribe for unethical behaviour.

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