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The 'Monkey Selfie' Monkey Just Filed an Appeal

Naruto v. Slater is headed to the Ninth Circuit, fighting for animal copyrights.
One of the monkey selfies taken with David Slater's camera. Photo: David Slater (or Naruto?)/Wikimedia Commons

A monkey appealed his copyright case to the Ninth Circuit on Sunday.

The lawsuit was brought by PETA on behalf of Naruto, a crested Sulawesi macaque, against the nature photographer David Slater and the self-publishing book company he used to publish a photography book. The book included the famous "monkey selfie," which Naruto purportedly took of himself. Lawyers for Naruto claim that the monkey owns the copyright, and that Slater and the publishing company have infringed it.

A lower court dismissed the suit earlier this year, ruling that animals don't have standing to sue under the Copyright Act. The decision was based on the Ninth Circuit case Cetacean v. Bush, a precedent established after a "self-appointed attorney for all of the world's whales, porpoises, and dolphins" sued the Navy for using a sonar system alleged to be harmful to marine mammals.

Upon hearing news of the appeal, I jumped up from my chair and ran to get my computer. En route, I tripped, fell, twisted my ankle, landed in a trash can, and had my pants fall off. I am now writing this in bed with ice on my ankle and tears in my eyes. This is the least embarrassing thing I have described in my entire blogpost.

The appeal brief is expected to be filed in a month or so, after which the appeals court will decide whether or not to uphold the district court ruling.

Correction: The article previously stated that the appeals court would decide whether or not to hear the case, but in fact the Ninth Circuit will be ruling on the matter if an appeal brief is filed.