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The Long-Running ‘Monkey Selfie’ Saga Is Finally Over

The British wildlife photographer David Slater has reached a settlement with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in a long-running copyright case over a photo of a macaque monkey, taken by the monkey on Slater’s camera in the Indonesian jungle.

The monkey, a crested macaque named Naruto, took the selfie in 2011. A few years later, Slater tried to get the Wikimedia Foundation to remove the shot from Wikipedia, but the foundation refused, arguing that the monkey had taken the shot, so no-one held the copyright to it and it was therefore in the public domain.

At the end of 2014, the U.S. Copyright Office confirmed that works created by non-humans are not copyrightable.

PETA then jumped on board, suing Slater in the monkey’s name, in an attempt to get U.S. courts to assign the copyright to the monkey as a legal precedent for the rights of animals.

A federal judge denied PETA’s monkey-copyright attempt at the start of 2016, so the group took the case up to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco “on the monkey’s behalf.”

As part of the settlement, Slater agreed to donate 25% of any future revenue he earns from the “monkey selfies” to charities that protect crested black macaques in Indonesia.

“PETA’s groundbreaking case sparked a massive international discussion about the need to extend fundamental rights to animals for their own sake, not in relation to how they can be exploited by humans,” PETA general counsel Jeff Kerr said in a statement.

However, PETA did not get its legal precedent, as the 9th Circuit did not make a ruling.