|Photo: David Slater|
PETA has announced that it has settled its copyright lawsuit against photographer David Slater over his iconic “monkey selfie,” a self-portrait allegedly taken by a macaque named Naruto. The image went viral a few years ago, ultimately catching the attention of PETA, who argued that Naruto—not Slater—was the image’s legal copyright holder. This spurred a lawsuit that has dragged on for about two years.
The legal issues began shortly after the monkey selfie went viral. Various sites used the image without Slater’s permission and refused to cease use on the claim that Slater didn’t own the copyright. The U.S. Copyright Office didn’t prove helpful in the matter, having issued an official guidance stating that copyright could only be granted to a work that was created by a human.
PETA swooped in soon after, hitting Slater with a lawsuit in 2015 on behalf of Naruto, the macaque it claimed captured the photo (there’s some debate on this topic). The resulting legal spat drained Slater financially, but things began looking up this past summer when courts questioned whether PETA even had the legal standing to bring a lawsuit on Naruto’s behalf, among other things. As anticipated, the courts’ push against the lawsuit has seemingly spurred a settlement.
According to an announcement posted to PETA’s blog on Tuesday, Slater has agreed to settlement terms that require him to donate 25% of future revenue from the image to charities that protect macaques like Naruto. PETA still maintains that Naruto and other macaques like him are, “worthy of having legal ownership of their own intellectual property and holding other rights as members of the legal community.”