A monkey selfie lawsuit by PETA claims a monkey named Naruto owns the copyright to several selfies he took in 2011. The camera’s owner, British wildlife photographer David Slater, apparently believes the monkey knew what he was doing when he snapped the selfie shots. Now, PETA, or the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is suing Slater after Naruto’s selfies became an Internet sensation.
Yahoo! wrote on Tuesday that the animal rights activist group PETA wants all profits from Naruto’s selfies to benefit Naruto, his family, his community and his habitat. Slater said in an interview that he’s not rich from the monkey selfies and the lawsuit is ruining his photography business. But since Slater himself stated that Naruto seemed self-aware and primates like him are diminishing in population, PETA believes any money raised from the selfies should be used for their protection.
Slater befriended the crested black macaque monkeys four years ago after walking with them for three days on the Tangkoko Batuangus Nature Reserve in Indonesia. According to Slater, the macaques seemed very interested in his camera, so he left it alone for them to explore set up on a tripod. Little did he know, the monkeys would begin taking selfies. Six-year-old Naruto actually made faces in his selfie photos.
Said Slater, “My experience of these monkeys suggested that they were not just highly intelligent but were also aware of themselves.” Slater has since registered the monkey selfies with the U.S. Copyright Office and published them in a wildlife book. PETA filed the federal monkey selfie lawsuit for the macaques, saying they are primates like us and it’s only our own conceit that keeps them from being recognized as complete humans.