Naruto — the wide-grinned, selfie-taking monkey at the center of a roughly two-year legal battle over whether animals can hold a copyright — has something new to smile about.
Animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) on Monday announced it had reached a settlement in its lawsuit asking a US federal court to declare Naruto, a crested macaque, the copyright owner of his Internet-famous selfies. As part of the settlement, photographer David Slater agreed to donate 25 percent of any future revenue derived from Naruto's selfies to charities that protect the habitat of crested macaques in Indonesia.
The settlement is a semi-win for Naruto after a US District Judge last year ruled against him, stating that monkeys cannot hold a copyright on something. The case made it all the way to a federal appeals court before both sides reached an agreement this week.
PETA in a statement said the settlement "broke new ground for animal rights."
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"Thanks to this settlement, sales of the photographs that Naruto indisputably took will help protect and support him, his community of macaques, and their Indonesian home," the organization said.
The entire ordeal came about when Naruto took a number of photographs of himself using Slater's camera. Slater later published a book with the picture of the monkey in it. PETA filed a lawsuit on behalf of Naruto, arguing that the animal actually owns the copyright to the photo.
"This case raises important, cutting-edge issues about expanding legal rights for nonhuman animals, a goal that they both support, and they will continue their respective work to achieve this goal," PETA and Slater said in a joint statement.