A lawsuit between a British wildlife photographer and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) over a "monkey selfie" was settled Monday, after the appeal judges at a court in San Francisco threw out the organization's appeal on "behalf of the animal" for copyright to the image.
A lawsuit which began in 2015 questioned whether animals own the copyright to their own selfies.
The seeds of the legal battle between Slater and PETA were sown when a crested macaque monkey took selfies with Slater's camera during his visit to Indonesia in 2011, reports said.
PETA claimed while suing Slater and his self-publishing company Blurb in 2015 that the monkey named Naruto owned the copyright to the photographs under the U.S. Copyright Act.
"In this case, Naruto —who has been accustomed to cameras throughout his life—saw himself in the reflection of the lens, drew the connection between pressing the shutter release and the change in his reflection, and made different facial expressions while pressing the shutter release," a press release of the animal rights organization stated.
Though the lawsuit ended with Slater's win, he agreed to donate 25 percent of future revenue derived from the monkey images to charities that protect Naruto and other such crested macaque monkeys.
In a joint statement, both PETA and Slater agreed on the fundamental issues about "expanding legal rights for non-human animals" that this case presented. They both agreed to continue work toward this aspect of animal rights.
The monkey selfie images created quite a stir when it first appeared in newspapers, magazines, websites and TV shows. The image was captured when Naruto grabbed Slater's camera, posed for a photograph and then pressed the "click" button.
However, things started to turn sour when Slater asked Wikimedia — a database of millions of images, videos, and audio files that are free for anyone to use — to remove one of his images used online and it refused to do so, the Telegraph reported.
Its argument that since Naruto pressed the shutter button, the monkey should own the copyright and not Slater, led to a copyrights dispute.
Since Wikimedia, the U.S.-based not-for-profit behind Wikipedia, refused to recognize Slater's copyright on the image, the photographer said it deprived him of revenue from licensing them for publication.
Slater said: "There's no consideration of the effort, the skill, the technological knowledge behind it, the vision...(Wikimedia) are ruining my income stream in doing this".
The U.S. Copyright Office ruled that animals cannot own copyrights.
“Every photographer dreams of a photograph like this,” Slater had said of the monkey selfie image. He added: “If everybody gave me a pound for every time they used [the photograph], I’d probably have £40 million in my pocket. The proceeds from these photographs should have me comfortable now, and I’m not," according to the Guardian.
Slater said he lost a lot of money as a result of being dragged through courts for more than five years.
In July, he told the newspaper he was working as a freelance photographer, which was tough for him but he also said economic stability was "once tantalizingly within reach."
He also said he was trying to become a tennis coach. "I’m even thinking about doing dog walking. I don’t make enough money to pay income tax," he said, according to the Guardian.