01 June 2018

The odd case of monkey see, monkey do

An unnamed US 9th Circuit judge keeps 'Monkey Selfie' copyright case alive by requesting rehearing.

The famous ‘monkey selfie’ trial is rattling on, with a US Ninth Circuit judge asking the full appeals court to consider rehearing its ruling last month that animals cannot sue for copyright infringement. In a filing on Friday, the court said that the unnamed Ninth Circuit judge had requested sua sponte that the full court vote on whether to rehear the case. New briefs on the issue are due within 21 days.

Case rehearing en banc
The court papers state: a judge has made a sua sponte request for a vote on whether to rehear en banc the published opinion dated April 23, 2018. Therefore, pursuant to General Order 5.4(c)(3), the parties are requested to file simultaneous briefs setting forth their respective positions on whether the case should be reheard en banc. The briefs are not to exceed 7,000 words and shall be filed within 21 days of the date of this order. Parties registered for appellate electronic case filing must file electronically without submission of paper copies. Parties who are not registered for appellate electronic case filing must file 50 paper copies.’ The en banc ruling means in the 9th circuit that an 11-judge panel would rehear the case.

No copyright for monkeys
Observers and media had pronounced the issue closed last month after the April 23rd hearing. The 9th Circuit had rejected a settlement between People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and photographer David Slater for infringing Naruto’s copyright. Naruto was the monkey involved, and PETA argued he had not approved of any settlement, an argument the court decisively. The court found no reason to believe that PETA, being a ‘next friend’ of the monkey, should get the monkey's copyright for taking the selfie. The court has stated all along that monkeys don't get copyright.