PETA, Pretending It Can Represent A Photogenic, Selfie-Snapping Monkey In Indonesia, Has Appealed Its Copyright Loss

from the this-case-is-bananas dept

When we last we checked in with Naruto the monkey, he was suffering a humiliating loss in a California courtroom. It was enough that it probably wiped this smile right off Naruto’s face:

Aw, who are we kidding? The monkey has no clue about any of this. It’s a monkey! The case is really about a giant publicity stunt by PETA, which is pretending to represent the monkey and claiming that a monkey taking a selfie can get a copyright. Incredibly, PETA hired a big time, previously well-respected law firm by the name of Irell & Manella, which argued with apparently straight faces that someone must own the copyright, and thus the monkey (and PETA) were the most obvious choice. But, that’s something anyone with even the most marginal knowledge of copyright should know is not true, because we have something called the public domain. No one needs to hold the copyright because there might not be a copyright (and in this case, there is none).

Anyway, back in January, district court judge William Orrick explained all of that to PETA and its fancy lawyers, but gave them a chance to amend the complaint and refile. When the deadline passed with nary a smiling monkey complaint, many of us figured that PETA had moved on to some other lame publicity stunt. But, no, this weekend PETA’s bananas law firm announced a planned appeal, filing the necessary notice with the district court.

In other words, the 9th Circuit — home to some of the wackier copyright rulings ever — will now hear a case about whether or not an Indonesian monkey, who took a selfie, gets the copyright. The whole idea is crazy, but remember, this is the same appeals court that once (briefly) ruled that an actress had a copyright in her own performance in a movie.

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Companies: irell & manella, peta

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Comments on “PETA, Pretending It Can Represent A Photogenic, Selfie-Snapping Monkey In Indonesia, Has Appealed Its Copyright Loss”

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54 Comments
LucyP (profile) says:

Re: Re:

PETA’s financial info is public for anyone to see, and there’s nothing to hide: http://features.peta.org/Annual-Review-2015/year.aspx The staff, including the president of the organization, makes very modest salaries, and more than 82% of PETA’s operating expenses in 2015 went directly to their programs fighting animal exploitation.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

uhuh…

Lets break the figures down shall we?

>> International Grassroots Campaigns $8,903,548
* Paid to MARKETING COMPANIES and Celebrities that are members of PETA

>> Public Outreach and Education $12,528,963
* Paid to MARKETING COMPANIES and Celebrities that are members of PETA

>> Research, Investigations, and Rescue $14,745,352
* Paid to MARKETING COMPANIES, Data Analysis & Research companies (owned or controlled by PETA members) and Legal Counsel

>>> Cruelty-Free Merchandise Program $928,381
Actual money from Merchandise bought by disillusioned souls that believe the confabulations that PETA is an animal welfare organisation instead of its true purpose of making money for itself and it’s upper echelon of celebrities (Quasi Scientology in other words)

>> Membership Development $6,963,668
have to pay these celebrities and members something to develop ways to disillusion the masses.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Contract

Having never had the privilege of engaging a lawyer for a civil suit, I am wondering if some kind of contract is involved. You know, one that lays out how the lawyer is to be paid. One third of the settlement, retainer up front, something else. The reason I ask is…I WANT TO SEE THE MONKEY’S SIGNATURE.

That Anonymous Coward says:

This is the case that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend. Some people filed it, not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue litigating it forever just because…This is the case that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend. Some people filed it, not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue litigating it forever just because…This is the case that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend. Some people filed it, not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue litigating it forever just because…This is the case that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend. Some people filed it, not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue litigating it forever just because…This is the case that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend. Some people filed it, not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue litigating it forever just because…This is the case that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend. Some people filed it, not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue litigating it forever just because…

Ben (profile) says:

Deadline?

If the deadline passed “with nary a smiling monkey complaint,” then how can they expect the filing to be processed? Yes exceptions can sometimes be made, but my experience with the courts is that they’d rather _not_ make decisions, and when there is a legitimate reason to reject something, they use it.

Otherwise “deadline” doesn’t mean what they think it means. … and that is inconceivable!

Anonymous Coward says:

I hate to be the one to point this out but why is it that PETA is the only animal rights group to sue on behalf of an animal? Every animals rights group should be suing for itself to gain the copyright of that photo and create a shark-feeding frenzy for that photo.

The one that I’m sure of is that PETA has no grounds to sue on behalf of animals unless someone, somewhere, has unilaterally declared that PETA is the only ANIMAL RIGHTS group in existence. Unless the animal was owned by PETA at the time that the photo was taken, PETA has no grounds to sue anybody over that photo.

Second, animals cannot hold copyright since the law doesn’t recognize animals as having the same rights as people.

When is this nonsense going to stop and when are the courts going to put an end to this foolishness.

LucyP (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The law recognizes that whoever takes a photo owns the copyright. It doesn’t hinge on the photographer’s age, gender, race, or even species. If a human took this photo there would be no question that the photographer owns it. That doesn’t change just because Naruto is a macaque. If the lawsuit succeeds, it would be groundbreaking—the first time an animal is declared the rightful owner of property, instead of being considered property themselves.

Dan (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The law recognizes that whoever takes a photo owns the copyright. It doesn’t hinge on the photographer’s age, gender, race, or even species.

Nice try, but the bolded portion is simply not a correct statement of the law. As far as the law is concerned, “whoever” includes only homo sapiens. No other life form is considered a natural person (corporations are neither life forms nor natural persons). There is a fringe minority of nutty people who believe that should change, and perhaps some day it will. I personally don’t think it should unless we make friendly contact with extra-terrestrial intelligence, but you’re free to lobby Congress to make a change. But that’s where the change should be made, if at all–not in the courts.

Isma'il says:

Re: Re:

This “nonsense” is only going to stop when enough people stop supporting organisations like PETA because of their insane behaviour, and they run out of cash flow to hire attorneys (or pay their in-house attorneys) to argue their ridiculous “points” before the court system.

Think about it: Our court system allows anyone with pockets deep enough to file whatever lawsuit they want, despite the merits or lack thereof. Of course, attorneys are all too happy to accept a client’s money. Then a judge has to hear the argument, no matter how preposterous.

No money = no ridiculous lawsuits, because no attorney in their right mind would accept such a case pro bono.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Missing the point

The only people missing the point are PETA. The Court can only decide based upon the statutes and regulations in front of it, it cannot will a right out of the ether. If PETA was us to “reconsider our concept of rights and who is deserving of them” it must do so at the legislature, not the courthouse.

This is nothing more than a frivolous case, which wastes court resources and tax payer dollars. What’s worse is counsel should have advised against this from the get-go, and thus I say would be liable for Rule 11 sanctions.

Loki says:

This is why PETA isn’t just a joke, but a disgusting organization. Anyone who genuiny cares about the actual ethical treatment of animals should do some math and figure out how many hundreds, if not thousands, of animals could have led full healthy lives with they money these jackals have wasted, and continue to waste, on this case alone.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Click your heels together three times...

It appears that PETA has a bunch of followers who think that if they wish something hard enough it will be true, or will become true, or will sometime in the future stink of truthiness, or make steam come out of their ears. They have rallied the troops and sent them after (probably any site reporting the story that has comments) anyone having a good time at their expense.

Anonymous Coward says:

Naruto picked up the camera and took the selfie without help. The photo should belong to him. The proceeds from Naruto’s photo should be used to help endangered monkeys. Because of this lawsuit, the matter has been gotten nationwide media attention. Women and black people weren’t given many legal rights at first either. Something had to pave the way for that to change, and hopefully this will be the impetus that gives animals more legal consideration in the future.

Kal Zekdor (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’ll concede the monkey has the rights to the photo just as soon as it directly claims those rights. PETA is not trying to get the rights to be assigned to the monkey, they’re trying to get the rights assigned to PETA, “on behalf of” the monkey. If that’s true, they should have a contract with the monkey’s signature, since we’re all trying real hard to pretend that the monkey has magically become sentient.

Has PETA even been in contact with the monkey? Are there communication records? Has it expressed interest in this case to the press?

No? Oh, right, it’s a monkey.

Kal Zekdor (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Another thing…

The proceeds from Naruto’s photo should be used to help endangered monkeys.

That statement alone shows a huge amount of bias. Just for a second, let’s assume that “Naruto” has all the rights and duties of a natural person. So, yes, the copyright would fall to the monkey. Not PETA, the monkey.

Now, first off, what proceeds are you talking about? If the copyright was assigned to the monkey what would happen is simply that nobody could use the photo in question. Or do you really, truly, actually think that Naruto would then go on to personally license the photo to a rights management organization?

Secondly, why the flying frak are you assuming that he would want his earnings going to help endangered monkeys? Maybe he just wants to buy some shit.

Back to reality.

On the one hand, you’re trying push this narrative that the monkey is sentient and is capable of independent action. At the same time you’re shoving your own biases and wants down its throat, treating it as though it cannot make rational decisions.

That’s some potent doublethink.

Zonker says:

Re: Re:

You’re right. Animals should have all the same rights and responsibilities as people.

So we can cite cats and dogs for jaywalking when they cross the street anywhere but at a crosswalk or intersection. We can arrest stray dogs, cats, raccoons, and squirrels when they trespass in our yards. A wolf can be charged with murder when it kills sheep or chickens for food. Hamsters that eat their own babies will be given life sentences in prison for cannibalism and child murder.

Horses shall have the right to marry people. Cats have the right to bear arms (AK-47s, not the literal arms of bears as that would violate the rights of bears). Turkeys should have the right to vote in our elections, especially during Presidential primaries. Mr. Toad should be given a drivers license with no restrictions. Laughing hyenas have the free speech right to mock anyone they please. All human pet owners should be convicted of slave ownership if they do not release their pet cats or dogs immediately.

/end sarcasm

Don’t you have any concept just how idiotic that would be? Humans make laws as a social construct for making explicit code of conduct between other humans to operate as a society. We do not legislate for the entire animal kingdom, even if they could understand the laws we make. Or should we humans really be subject to laws written by the literal 1,000 monkeys with typewriters?

CanadianByChoice (profile) says:

Naruto saw people aiming cameras (at others or at themselves) probably thousands of time per day. He saw that, when this happened, people “smiled” and – whoever had the camera – pushed the button. This he saw and this he could do too.
That, in no way, means that he understood that doing so would make a photograph. What you have is not an act of creativity, it’s just “monkey see, monkey do”.
I don’t believe that PETA cares if they win … or loose (in court); they’ve already “won” with the incredible PR.

Jennofur OConnor says:

Bravo, PETA!

Naruto made the cause and effect connection between pushing the shutter and the change to his reflection in the camera lens. He repeatedly and intentionally pressed the shutter. The photos only exist due to his deliberate actions.

I applaud PETA for taking this action. The laws need to catch up: animals deserve legal recognition of appropriate rights.

Sheik Omar Abdul Al-Bagdahi says:

Such a waste of time and resourcs

both in regards to law and animal rights. We as a society are better served when courts aren’t clogged with such asinine claims.

And there are far more important animal rights & abuse prevention causes which would have benefited from the money and effort wasted on this one case. Civet cats in morally bankrupt China could use a helping hand right now (kopi luwak) far more than “Naruto.”

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