Who remembers the monkey who took a selfie of himself on a nature photographer’s camera in 2011? It was a story that surely popped up on your social media platform of choice at the time, then promptly disappeared into the depths of the internet with Grumpy Cat and Chocolate Rain and everything else that was huge until it wasn’t .
Despite it disappearing from public view, the picture went on to have a rather interesting post-fame story. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) filed a lawsuit in the US to give Naruto, the monkey who took the picture, “[the] right to own and benefit from the copyright … in the same manner and to the same extent as any other author.”.
Essentially, they wanted Naruto here to be able to own copyright of the picture he took. To what benefit isn’t entirely clear (what’s a monkey going to do with royalty money?), but it did raise an interesting question. Where do we draw the line with copyright? Do animals have the right to own things they technically make themselves?
In answer to the latter question, as reported in the Guardian and later in the Independant, US District Judge William Orrick ruled that Naruto can’t own the copywrite to the picture. Not exactly a Disney ending, but we’re pretty sure Naruto would have been just as happy with an extra-juicy mango!