No, the monkey doesn’t own copyright in the picture it reportedly snapped of itself. But does anyone own it, or is it public domain from the time of the click? [David Post/Volokh, The Passive Voice with comments, GigaOm, BuzzFeed]
“The Ninth Circuit has now said we should not use animals as props in ideologically driven litigation.” [Ted Folkman, Letters Blogatory] In particular:
But now, 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. Were he capable of recognizing this abandonment, we wonder whether Naruto might initiate an action for breach of confidential relationship against his (former) next friend, PETA, for its failure to pursue his interests before its own.
The footnote ends with a devastating indictment of PETA’s entire project:
Puzzlingly, while representing to the world that “animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way,” PETA seems to employ Naruto as an unwitting pawn in its ideological goals.
PETA has appealed to the Ninth Circuit the dismissal of its suit, ostensibly on behalf of a wild monkey, against “monkey-selfie” photographer David Slater. Slater, reduced by years of litigation against the fanatical animal rights group and other parties, is in financial straits and thinking of walking dogs to earn money. “Nor can he afford to replace his broken camera equipment, or pay the attorney who has been defending him since the crested black macaque sued him in 2015, and is exploring other ways to earn an income.” Abusive litigation is evil and don’t even ask what I think of PETA. [The Guardian]
As we highlighted earlier this week, while it was no surprise that PETA and photographer David Slater worked out a settlement agreement to end the ridiculous lawsuit PETA had filed, it was deeply concerning that part of the settlement involved PETA demanding that the original district court ruling — the one saying, clearly, that animals don’t get copyrights — should be thrown out.
It took just a few days for Frank, on behalf of CEI, to file a wonderful and hilarious amicus brief with the court. There are a bunch of reasons why vacatur is improper here, but the real beauty of this brief is in pointing out that Naruto — the monkey — has been left out of the settlement, and thus not “all parties” have agreed. No, really.
A monkey, an animal-rights organization and a primatologist walk into federal court to sue for infringement of the monkey’s claimed copyright. What seems like the setup for a punchline is really happening. It should not be happening. Under Cetacean Community v. Bush, 386 F.3d 1169 (9th Cir. 2004), dismissal of this action is required for lack of standing and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Monkey see, monkey sue is not good law – at least not in the Ninth Circuit.
The only pertinent fact in this case is that Plaintiff is a monkey suing for copyright infringement.
Meanwhile, on what I suppose you could call a parallel track, from Broward County, Fla.: “Attorney Kenneth Trent says the turtles themselves have standing to sue in federal court” [AP/Fox DC]
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]
- Will it ever end? “Monkey Selfie Photographer Says He’s Now Going To Sue Wikipedia” [Mike Masnick, TechDirt, earlier]
- Justice Thomas argues Indian Reorganization Act is unconstitutional [Upstate Citizens for Equality v. U.S., land-into-trust, dissenting from denial of certiorari]
- “How much does it cost to reimburse a probation officer for $60 pants? About $4,300, so far” [John Beauge, PennLive]
- On Gill v. Whitford, partisan gerrymandering, and the uses of math in law [Erica Goldberg]
- Brazil makes progress on fighting corruption, advancing rule of law [Juan Carlos Hidalgo on new Cato policy analysis by Geanluca Lorenzon]
- “Activision are fighting a [trademark] for ‘Call of DooDee’, a dog-poop-removal service” [PC Games]
- Scranton, Pa. federal judge “denies ‘exorbitant’ request for nearly $1M in attorney fees after $125K recovery” [ABA Journal; arose from bad faith insurance action on underlying uninsured motorist claim that settled for $25,000]
- As PETA settles monkey selfie case with hapless photographer, details confirm that “Naruto is really just a prop to be deployed in the case as PETA sees fit.” [Ted Folkman, Eriq Gardner, earlier] A sad catalogue of litigation abuse enabled by PETA’s donors [Frank Bednarz thread]
- Lively First Circuit opinion upholds extortion conviction of small town police chief [Bob Dunn, Berkshire Eagle, U.S. v. Buffis via IJ’s John Ross, “Short Circuit“; Lee, Mass.]
- She beat DOMA and the IRS too, and all in great style. My appreciation of Edith Windsor [Cato at Liberty]
- “North Carolina’s Fickle Finger of Redistricting” [also by me at Cato at Liberty]
- Me: “Posner was the judge lawyers really didn’t want to run into if they had bad class action settlements to defend” [Jonathan Bilyk, Cook County Record, earlier]
- “Prosecutors say use of condoms manufactured outside state made sex crime a federal offense” [ABA Journal]
- Philadelphia family court judge, much criticized in course of appellate review, now subject of probe by state Judicial Conduct Board [Samantha Melamed, Philly.com]
- Check out illustration: would you be likely to confuse cartoon beaver with cartoon alligator? Texas jury in trademark dispute thinks you would [Lowering the Bar]
- Panels at Federalist Society’s annual Executive Branch Review Conference tackle disparate impact, litigation and regulatory reform, and civil service reform, including participants like Gail Heriot, Roger Clegg, Stuart Taylor, Jr, and Philip K. Howard;
- British restrictions on trial reporting wrongly infringe on liberty of press, but at core of Tommy Robinson affair is old-fashioned contempt of court [Daniel Hannan, Washington Examiner]
- Animal Legal Defense Fund argues animals should have standing to sue persons who abuse them, opening many new employment opportunities for lawyers at places like ALDF [KATU; related, recent Ninth Circuit monkey-selfie ruling]
Here. Their winner is the monkey-selfie case, and it, like five of the others, has been covered here before: aunt sues nephew for careless hug, cop spills free coffee on lap and sues, thrown roll at Missouri restaurant, California woman allegedly used fake medical records and pictures “from the Internet” to bolster McDonald’s coffee-spill case, and Washington bank robber injured while fleeing scene.
The four others:
4. Pennsylvania Nursing Student Fails a Course Twice and Sues the School for Not Helping With Anxiety
5. Two New York Women File $40 Million Lawsuit Over ‘Like, Five or Six Scratches’ They Received From a Gas Explosion Blocks Away
6. Colorado Inmate is Suing the NFL for $88 Billion Over the 2015 Cowboys’ Playoff Loss
7. Florida Woman is Suing FedEx for Tripping Over a Package Left at Her Doorstep
Our coverage last year of their 2014 list is here.