Peta are suing for monkey selfie rights.

I’ve just read something utterly ridiculous and I’m pissed at Peta! Peta are suing for an animal’s rights for their monkey selfie.

THAT monkey selfie! The one where the monkey took a picture of himself? Here it is:

Credit to David Slater/Monkey
Credit to David Slater/Monkey. Currently free for use.

The picture was taken by the monkey himself, using David Slater’s (wildlife photographer) camera. The photo was published in one of Slater’s books, and now look what’s happened…

Is the monkey selfie picture common ground?

Wikipedia have used the picture, claiming it is common ground and owned by nobody, as an animal cannot claim rights. First of all, that’s insane. Cats take ‘selfies’ all the time! And if an animal takes a picture of itself by accidentally pressing a button then that’s all it is. If you set up a camera, had it ready so you could click at any time or were going to let your child click it, and someone came along and pressed the button, is that then their picture? I might go round claiming some awesome photography by pressing people’s camera buttons in the street. New career!

Wikipedia’s View

Also, animals taking selfies cannot suddenly become a thing because technology means the button is accessible to them. This case can only be the beginning of something scarily weird. Yet, it is law! American and British intellectual property lawyers Mary M. Luria and Charles Swan said that because the creator of the photograph is an animal and not a person, there is no copyright on the photograph, regardless of who owns the equipment with which the photograph was created. However, British media lawyer Christina Michalos said that on the basis of British law on computer-generated art, it is arguable that the photographer may own copyrights on the photograph, because he owned and presumably had set up the camera.

On December 22, 2014, the United States Copyright Office clarified its practices, explicitly stating that works created by a non-human are not subject to copyright, and lists in their examples a “photograph taken by a monkey”.


Never in my lifetime did I think there would be copyright issues over animal selfies (that’s an actual phrase now!).

Peta’s View

Now, not only has the poor guy got to deal with Wikipedia, but Peta are on the case, trying to claim rights for the monkey! That’s right, you read that correctly. The monkey should own the photo apparently.

On September 22, 2015, PETA filed a suit in the US to request that the monkey be assigned copyright.


If they win, how would they go about distribution. Would they do this on an animals behalf? Would they put it in a book by themselves? What about controlling the image use? I am assuming this would be done by Peta too. Would it not really just become Peta’s photo?

Who is David Slater?

Slater is a wildlife photographer, which I would assume means he has a lot of respect and love for animals. Photography is a labour of love and even with a passion for the subject, can be difficult to make a living out of. I feel lucky to have had these pictures shared with us in the beginning. I don’t plan on being in the jungle any time soon.

Slater was the one hanging out with these monkeys in the jungle, he was the one gaining their trust in order to be able to be so close to them, he set up the camera – unless the monkey is better than your average person at setting those things up. The image, along with other great pictures, are an achievement to be acknowledged and not fought. Who else managed to get a monkey to take his own picture? If Peta fancy going and handing out some disposables to animals in order to make money, then fine, but I doubt that’s going to happen. I think what is actually occurring here is that they are trying to make an example of one person.

A person who clearly loves wildlife and probably would have donated some of the money raised to these fantastic monkeys anyway.

You can find his side of the story and more fantastic images here:

Just as a disclaimer, I actually usually support work by animal rights and protection organisations. This, however, seems a step too far to me.

What do you think? Whatever you do, keep your camera away from your pesky pets or you could have a lawsuit on your hands!