The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that animals cannot have copyrights — in response to a photo of a seven-year-old macaque named Naruto that was circulated a few years ago.
In 2011, British photographer David Slater set up a camera in Indonesia and captured many photos of Naruto, which he published in his book “Wildlife Personalities.” Once the photo surfaced on Wikipedia, Slater was not able to collect royalties and stated he had been suffering financially.
Additionally, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) fought Slater in court, defending Naruto and stating he should have copyrights to the photo since he took the picture himself. In October 2017, Slater agreed to donate 25 percent of his book royalties to charities for the welfare of animals, but the court recognized this benefited PETA’s ideology more than it benefited Naruto as an individual.
It has been ruled, hypothetically, that animals can, in fact, sue humans in certain cases, but are completely ineligible for copyright. This ruling has placed full ownership back into Slater’s hands.