- David J Slater / Blurb
A wildlife photographer and an animal rights group have reached a settlement in perhaps the weirdest lawsuit of the century.
David Slater and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have been at loggerheads for years over who owns the rights to the famous “monkey selfie” taken by a curious macaque in 2011.
The dispute centred on whether a monkey can exert ownership over a photograph it took, or whether it can belong to a human – in this case Slater.
Slater spent a long time with crested macaques in Sulawesi, Indonesia, teaching them to be interested enough in his equipment to take pictures of themselves.
The resulting image is now famous on the internet, and regularly appears on social media, in blog posts, and memes.
Animal rights group PETA decided to take Slater (pictured below in a Facebook post) to court in 2015 on behalf of the monkey.
Peta claimed they had identified the macaque in the photo as a male called Naruto. They argued proceeds should benefit the monkey who took the pictures, which Slater has been disputing in court ever since.
On Monday, attorneys released a statement that PETA and Slater had reached a settlement, which will see 25% of any future revenue from the images (the famous selfie and another similar image) will be donated to charities dedicated to protecting crested macaques in Indonesia.
This was after Slater’s lawyers tried to get the court case thrown out, arguing that animals can’t claim copyright. He also previously claimed that PETA had the wrong macaque, alleging that Naruto was the wrong age and gender for the monkey in the photo.
However, on August 4th, the lawyers notified the appeals court they were nearing a settlement and asked the judges not to rule.
On Monday, Slater and PETA said in a joint statement: “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.”