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Federal Appeals Court Rejects PETA’s Bid for Monkey Copyright

A federal appeals court on Monday dismissed arguments made by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that a monkey who gained fame for a smiling selfie should own copyrights to the image. A black-haired crested macaque named Naruto was at the center of a lawsuit filed by the animal-welfare group, after the primate gained worldwide stardom for a 2015 photo that he apparently took of himself using a wildlife photographer’s unattended camera. PETA sought to sue the photographer, David Slater, and have Naruto recognized as the rightful owner of the image’s copyright. But in ruling against PETA, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals suggested Naruto was an “unwitting pawn” in the organization’s “ideological goals.” “PETA’s real motivation in this case was to advance its own interests, not Naruto’s,” Judge N. Randy Smith wrote. “We have no idea whether animals or objects wish to own copyrights or open bank accounts to hold their royalties from sales of pictures.”