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August 29, 2016

ILR’s ‘Faces of Lawsuit Abuse’ Campaign Cited in ‘Monkey Selfie’ Brief Before Ninth Circuit

Last year, the infamous “Monkey Selfie” lawsuit was dubbed the Most Ridiculous Lawsuit of 2015 by ILR’s Faces of Lawsuit Abuse campaign.

That case involves nature photographer David Slater, who had set up a camera that was used by a 6-year-old crested macaque, named Naruto, to take a “selfie.” Slater claimed copyright of the photo, and it was published in a 2011 book called Wildlife Personalities.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), however, sued in San Francisco, claiming that the monkey, not Slater, owns the copyright to the photo. PETA also claims that the monkey should be the financial beneficiary of all proceeds from the photo’s use.

What’s more — PETA has asked the court to grant the organization permission to administer and protect the copyright on behalf of the monkey. That would include receiving and administering any money from the lawsuit on behalf of Naruto.

In January, a federal judge tossed the lawsuit, but PETA has filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit. 

As it turns out, Andrew J. Dhuey, attorney for Slater, highlights ILR’s Faces of Lawsuit Abuse campaign in his brief for the Ninth Circuit, writing: 

“This case — winner of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Most Ridiculous Lawsuit of 2015 award — is poised to retain its title in 2016.”

Hollywood Reporter (in an article that also highlights the Faces of Lawsuit Abuse campaign), further quotes Dhuey’s brief:

“However passionate PETA may be about establishing monkey standing for copyright infringement suits, that passion is not a ‘significant relationship’ with Naruto,” Dhuey writes. “If it were, then hundreds and perhaps thousands of animal charities would be eligible next friends of Naruto, qualified to bring suit on his behalf.”

We’re not certain if this lawsuit will repeat as the “Most Ridiculous Lawsuit” champion, but we are sure that this kind of monkey business has the potential to turn America’s courts into a circus.

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