Owner of camera with which macaque took a selfie, settles

If you are traveling to tropical rainforest, it is better to keep your camera in your pocket. A macaque that took a selfie with a photographer’s camera in Indonesia in 2011 has forced the photographer to file a lawsuit over the selfie’s copyright.

In 2011, British wildlife photographer David Slater traveled to an Indonesian nature reserve in the tropical rainforest on the island of Sulawesi. There, a crested macaque named Naruto grabbed his camera and snapped a selfie of himself at the push of a button. The photo seemed priceless, but now it turns out Slater didn’t really benefit from it in the end.

Animal rights organization PETA filed a lawsuit against Slater in the US on behalf of the macaque in 2015, because the organization believed that the monkey owned the copyright of the photo. Initially, in 2016, a US judge ruled in Slater’s favor because animals cannot own copyrights.

However, PETA wanted to continue to litigate, and because Slater couldn’t afford it, a settlement has now been reached. The plaintiffs will drop their case as long as Slater donates 25 percent of all future revenue from Naruto’s selfies to charitable organizations that protect the macaque’s habitat.

The photo was taken when Slater mounted the camera on a tripod and set it to an autofocus mode. Naruto suddenly approached and pressed the shutter button, after which the selfie was taken. Neither the photographer nor his lawyer have responded to a request from The New York Times for comment. The animal rights organization says it is happy that Naruto and his ilk are benefiting from the images.

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