Bizarre monkey selfie lawsuit settled in court

  • 12/09/2017
David Slater is behind the iconic photo, but says it's ruined his life.
David Slater is behind the iconic photo, but says it's ruined his life. Photo credit: David Slater

A lawsuit over who owns the copyright to a selfie taken by a monkey in Indonesia has finally been settled, after a lengthy court battle that left the photographer near-broke.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) filed the suit in 2015 on behalf of six-year-old Naruto, seeking to have the macaque monkey "declared the author and owner of his photograph".

"Our argument is simple," PETA said in a statement.

"US copyright law doesn't prohibit an animal from owning a copyright, and since Naruto took the photo, he owns the copyright, as any human would."

This week the case has finally come to an end, with British photographer David Slater agreeing to donate 25 percent of future revenue from the photo to charities dedicated to protecting the monkeys.

Mr Slater set up the photo on a trip to Indonesia in 2011, when he spent three days training monkeys to press the shutter on his camera and take a selfie.

Since PETA took him to court, he's had to pay thousands in legal fees and has struggled to find work.

"PETA and David Slater agree that this case raises important, cutting-edge issues about expanding legal rights for non-human animals, a goal that they both support, and they will continue their respective work to achieve this goal," PETA and Mr Slater said in a joint statement.