A monkey who took a selfie that went viral can’t be considered the copyright owner of the photo, a federal judge said Wednesday.
U.S. District Judge William Orrick said that while copyright protection could be extended to animals by Congress and the president, current copyright laws do not cover animals.
The animal protection group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals brought the case to court seeking to manage all the proceeds from the photos for the 6-year-old crested macaque named Naruto and other macaques living on a reserve in Sulawesi, Indonesia.
Naruto snapped a famous photo in 2011 when he snagged the camera of a British nature photographer who sought to dismiss the case, saying his company, Wildlife Personalities Ltd., owned the copyright.
The company published a book of animal photos, including the monkey selfie. It has been circulated widely, with some contending that since photo was taken by a monkey, no one owns the copyright.
PETA vowed to keep fighting for the copyright.
“We have the moral imperative to continue the evolution of the law that has proved so vital to the progress and betterment of our society,” the group wrote in a press release. “All animals deserve basic legal rights that reflect their complex traits and needs.”