Lawyers make a monkey out of rights group in selfie suit.
AN ANIMAL rights group has been ridiculed by the lawyers of a photographer after the animal rights group issued a lawsuit for copyright infringement on behalf of the famous smiling selfie monkey.
Peta is suing David Slater, who lives at Mathern near Chepstow, along with the makers of the publishing software he used to make a book containing the photographs of the macaque, named Naruto.
Peta has issued proceedings in California seeking "all proceeds from the sale, licensing, and other commercial uses of the Monkey Selfies" to fund conservation efforts.
It claims Naruto owns the picture after pinching Slater's camera four years ago while he was in Indonesia and then pressing the button to take a picture.
But the claim has been derided by lawyers acting for the nature photographer, who claim Peta can't prove the primate they name in the lawsuit is the actual monkey who took the famous pictures.
According to legal experts, the image belongs in the public domain, because the US government doesn't grant copyrights for artwork created by animals. But Peta is refusing to drop its claim - leading Slater's defence to issue papers demanding the case be dismissed.
Outlining the case in court papers, lawyers wrote: "A monkey, an animal rights organisation and a primatologist walk into a federal court to sue for infringement of the monkey's claimed copyright.
"What seems like the set-up for a punchline is really happening. It should not be happening. Under Cetacean Community v Bush, dismissal of this action is required for lack of standing and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
"Monkey see, monkey sue is not good law - at least, not in the Ninth Circuit."
If an animal were able to hold copyright on a photo, the document alleges, it wouldn't necessarily be the monkey's to claim.
Slater argues that he should own the rights to the photograph, and that the selfie's distribution by Wikimedia and a company called Techdirt as public domain are "ruining my business."
A hearing date has been set for January 6.
The 2011 'monkey <Bselfie' that has ended up in court