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Monkeying Around with Copyright Law

July 19, 2017 writer David Kravets updates his coverage of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (“PETA”) lawsuit against David Slater, a nature photographer, and online e-book publishing platform, Blurb.  In 2015, PETA filed suit as the self-appointed attorneys of an Indonesian macaque monkey named Naruto, alleging that he owned copyrights for photographs the monkey took of himself after grabbing a camera from a nature photographer.


Mr. Slater later recovered the purloined camera and published the photographs using Blurb’s self-publishing platform in his book, Wildlife Personalities.  PETA's lawsuit over ownership of the photograph copyrights has effectively bankrupted Mr. Slater and threatens to throw a monkey wrench in well-established safe harbor provisions protecting third-party hosting sites, like Blurb, from copyright infringement claims.  Mr. Kravets explains why:


While PETA's position is bananas in light of well established copyright law holding animals cannot be authors nor create works of authorship and the important safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennial Copyright Act and Communications Decency Act (as explained by Mr. Kravets' article), the matter is currently on appeal to the Ninth Circuit.





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