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Both parties asked the court to drop the monkey copyright trial and you’ll never believe its decision

Remember our piece about the monkey copyright lawsuit? We do! And we’ve been following the story a little. If you have been too, you probably know that PETA and David Slater eventually agreed to settle the matter in a way that would benefit the wildlife. And with that, we supposed the story was over.

We were wrong

Yesterday, David Slater announced that the trial is going on. Now, to refreshen your memories: the trial is basically PETA suing on behalf of a monkey. That, in and of itself, should have been the ridiculous part in this story. Hahaha. Nice media stunt, PETA, now go home. But it didn’t, and then it dragged on for years and ruined a mans life. After the settlement, you’d think that would be the end of it. We did. There was just some paperwork to be done: both parties had to ask the judge to drop the trial and that would be it.

Well, both parties did and now the judges decided on that request. They decided to deny it. The suit will not be dropped: the court heard oral arguments and is now moving on with the trial, as it sees a number of reasons to move on with the trial. The court document cites ‘institutional litigants’, strategic settlements to make precedent look more favourable than it really is and avoiding a court ruling as reasons, which may very well indicate that PETA isn’t going to like what the judge has to say about suing in the name of animals or claiming they have copyrights. In any event, the court case is on and the judges aren’t taking prisoners.

The law, lawyers and monkey business: how a selfie is ruining a photographer’s life

Okay, so we vaguely heard about the copyright conflict over some monkey’s selfies before, but we did not realise the extent to which this ridiculous affair is affecting the life of a man who has brilliantly provided the world with very popular photographs.

The Guardian reports that David Slater, the photographer that arranged for manaques to take selfies, has barely covered the costs of creating said photo’s. Why? Well, among others Wikipedia argues that he can’t have the copyright because the monkeys took the pictures themselves.

But it gets worse: he’s being sued. By a freaking monkey. Did the monkey file for a lawsuit? Of course not! Monkeys don’t know how to sue anyone. If they did, half the world’s corporations would be in legal trouble for destroying their homes. PETA, the “People for Ethical Treatment of Animals”, sued on behalf of the monkey.

This is ridiculous. For one thing: Monkey’s can’t sign a proxy or a power of attorney. How on earth can someone be filing a suit on behalf of an animal who neither has the actual capacity to command the English (or any other) language, nor the mental capacity to understand the meaning of legal representation? If this is allowed, then are we going to see people filing suits on behalf of dogs who feel they get less treats than other dogs based on their race?

But it’s even more ridiculous that PETA seeks to stretch the definition of ‘person’, as used in the Copyright Act of 1976 to include monkeys. Think about it. If that is to fly, then american-born monkeys get to vote. Bearing in mind last year’s election result, that is not necessarily a bad thing, but the implications would be huge. And I think we get to unequivocally state that the law was never written to have monkeys being identified as a person. Especially not in the legal sense of the word.

What’s more: if a monkey is a person, than does the same go for horses? Dolphins? Eagles? And how are we going to go about identifying which eagles are supposed to be on the no-fly list? Or get them passports? This may sound like a joke, but questions like these are being asked by an actual judge:

“There is no way to acquire or hold money. There is no loss as to reputation. There is not even any allegation that the copyright could have somehow benefited Naruto,” said Judge N Randy Smith. “What financial benefits apply to him? There’s nothing.”

It is beyond the point of ridiculousness. And it would be laughable, if not for the fact that a photographer who has done some incredible work and who should be credited and rewarded for his contribution, is now broke because of this. And he himself says:

“If everybody gave me a pound for every time they used [the photograph], I’d probably have £40m in my pocket. The proceeds from these photographs should have me comfortable now, and I’m not.”

Well, here we go. We’re using the photograph, so we’re paying you a pound, David. Because, ridiculous legal disputes aside, it seems only fair that the guy who actually put in effort and money to create these pictures, should earn something off it.

If you feel as we do, please consider helping David out by donating through his Paypal.