Moral Victory in the World’s Most Controversial Animal Selfie Case

Monkey see, monkey… settle? After years of legal wrangling, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and British nature photographer David Slater have finally reached a settlement in the case of the infamous “monkey selfie,” taken on Slater’s camera by a macaque named Naruto.

PETA’s latest appeal in the controversial case is being dismissed, and Slater has agreed to henceforth donate 25 percent of the gross revenue from the monkey selfie to charities dedicated to protecting the crested macaque and its habitat. Slater has not disclosed his earnings to date from the monkey selfie, but he included the image in his 2014 book Wildlife Personalities.

“PETA and David Slater agree that this case raises important, cutting-edge issues about expanding legal rights for non-human animals, a goal that they both support, and they will continue their respective work to achieve this goal,” reads a joint statement from the artist and the animal rights group.

Selfie taken by a crested black macaque on David Slater’s camera.

The photograph was taken in the Tangkoko Reserve on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Slater arranged a camera on a tripod with a remote trigger, in the hopes that a monkey would unwittingly capture a compelling image.

The result, featuring Naturo’s toothy grin, became the world’s most litigious selfie.

Slater previously battled Wikipedia, taking them to task for reproducing the image without his consent. The online encyclopedia argued that Slater could not hold the copyright for the image since it was taken by the monkey, and the US Copyright Office ultimately agreed. In 2014, they ruled that photographs taken by animals cannot be copyrighted, saying “the office will not register works produced by nature, animals, or plants.”