To be sure it was not the most uncomplicated of copyright-protection cases. Wildlife photographer David Slater owned the camera that took the most famous (and arguably, the most glamorous) selfie of the twenty-teens. But it was Naruto the crested macaque who gazed into the lens, smiled broadly, and pushed the button.
On Naruto’s behalf, and yea, on behalf of the creative property of primates everywhere, PETA filed suit last summer to claim simian ownership of the world renowned “Monkey Selfie.”
The wheels of justice normally turn quite slowly, but there must be a top gear for the repression of non-human rights. Because it was just this last Wednesday that U.S. District Judge William “Damn Dirty Apes” Orrick ruled that Naruto and his furry brethren are not entitled to copyright protection, nor can they reasonably be considered “authors” of their own creative product. His ruling asserted that U.S. copyright laws were never meant to be enforced in or for the animal kingdom.
Fear this, my art- and literature-creating friends. This isn’t just a miscarriage of justice for macaque-kind, this is a warning shot across all our bows. You share 98% of your genome with Naruto. You have a hairy back and enjoy bananas (I’m guessing). You too can have your rights-of-ownership revoked, should Orrick or someone like him decide you’re an animal. You are an animal, of course, but that doesn’t mean you don’t take a very nice selfie, and aren’t entitled to own it afterwards.