For those who think intellectual property law cannot be interesting . . .
In 2015, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (“PETA”) and primatologist Antje Engelhardt of the Macaca Nigra Project brought suit against Slater for copyright infringement, as “Next Friends” for a male macaque named “Naruto,” in the U.S. District
Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco. Defendants filed motions to dismiss. On January 28, 2016, Judge William Orrick dismissed the case, finding that Naruto did not have standing to sue under the Copyright Act because animals cannot be “authors” and therefore cannot own copyrights.
PETA contended that the “highly intelligent” Naruto was accustomed to seeing cameras, observing humans handling cameras, hearing camera mechanisms in action, and seeing
them being used by humans for his entire life, as the reservation where he lives is next to a human village visited by tourists and photographers.