Naruto the monkey. (Photo: David Slater)

British photographer wins legal fight over 'monkey selfie'

British photographer David Slater has won a lawsuit over ownership of a monkey selfie photograph. 

A statement released on Monday (Sep 11) by Slater and animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said the lawsuit was now settled. 

In 2011, Slater was in the Tangkoko nature reserve in Indonesia’s Sulawesi when Naruto - a macaque monkey - took selfies using his camera. Slater had argued that the copyright belongs to him as he had made the photographs possible by making his camera accessible to a troupe of monkeys. 

US judges had earlier ruled that copyright protection could not be applied to the monkey, but PETA sued on the animal's behalf and said it should benefit.

PETA's appeal was dismissed by the US Court of Appeals in San Francisco, with Slater agreeing to donate 25 per cent of any future revenue to registered charities. 

"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," Slater and PETA said in a joint statement.

"As we learn more about Naruto, his community of macaques, and all other animals, we must recognise appropriate fundamental legal rights for them as our fellow global occupants and members of their own nations who want only to live their lives and be with their families."

The statement added: "To further these goals, David Slater will donate 25 per cent of future gross revenue from the Monkey Selfie photographs to charitable organisations dedicated to protecting and improving the welfare and habitat of Naruto and crested black macaques in Indonesia."

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