Monkey-snapped photos: the grin on the PETA

We’ve previously covered the controversy over whether anyone can properly claim copyright for a selfie photograph snapped by a macaque monkey. On one hand, the photographer who owned the camera and had set up the tripod wished to claim copyright; on the other, it was argued that the photo was properly in the public domain because the act of taking the shot had not been his. Now, in Naruto, a Crested Macaque, by and through his Next Friends, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. and Antje Engelhardt, Ph.D. v. David Slater, “PETA claims that the monkey, who is apparently named Naruto, should be treated as if he were a human artist who had taken the same photo.” [Consumerist, David Post]


  • I vote no copyright. It should not go to the photographer because he did not take the photo. It should not go to the monkey. Monkeys, other primates (with the exceptions of humans), and any other species should not have property rights.

  • In the spirit of equality, how about treating the PETA advocates as simians? How could they object?

  • Do the bacteria, fungi, and viruses that inhabit my shutter release (as I’m sure they do) have some claim to copyright also? How about the ones on PETA’s keyboards?

  • If the monkey has the ability to hold the copyrights, does that mean that the photographer got model releases for the monkey and the other monkeys he spied upon?

    Finally, just because my dog licks his butt doesn’t mean he has the right to copyright that recipe.

    • “Finally, just because my dog licks his butt doesn’t mean he has the right to copyright that recipe.”

      Well of course he doesn’t have the right to copyright that recipe. After all, that recipe is thousands of years old.

  • If the photographer owns the copyright to his macaque’s photos, is he also liable for trespass and invasion of privacy if his macaque climbs over a garden wall, climbs up a trellis, enters a celebrity’s bedroom, and takes photos of him engaged in intercourse with another celebrity?

    • Bill, it wasn’t his macaque. He was in Indonesia photographing wild macaques. He walked away from the camera for a minute and one of the wild macaques started playing with the camera and ended up taking a selfie.

      If it had been a captive macaque owned by the photographer he might have a stronger case that he owned the copyright.