Who Owns a Monkey Selfie? Settlement Should Leave Him Smiling – New York Times

Mr. Slater could not be reached for comment, and his lawyer declined to comment. Jeff Kerr, the general counsel for PETA, said the group was pleased that Naruto would benefit from the images.

“The dire need of Naruto is what fully underpins why we pursued this lawsuit to begin with,” Mr. Kerr said in an interview. “We wanted every bit of all of the proceeds to benefit Naruto.”

It is not clear how much money will be directed to charitable organizations from sales of the image. Mr. Kerr said he did not know how much money Mr. Slater had made on past sales.

Mr. Slater, a freelance photographer, told The Guardian in July that he could not afford to fly to California from England for an appeals court hearing and was considering other sources of income. “I’m even thinking about doing dog walking,” he told the publication.

Naruto snapped the image during a 2011 trip by Mr. Slater to the nature reserve on Sulawesi, one of the few habitats for crested macaques, black monkeys with sloping faces and short tails. He mounted the camera on a tripod and set it to autofocus when Naruto approached, looked into the lens and pressed the button.

Mr. Slater published the photographs in his book, “Wildlife Personalities,” and fought with groups, including the Wikimedia Foundation, that used the image without permission. But the Wikimedia Foundation refused and said the photograph was in the public domain.

Copyright law in the United States grants ownership rights for images to the person who took it. PETA had argued that because Naruto was the rightful owner because he physically pressed the shutter button to create the image. But Judge William H. Orrick of the United States District Court in San Francisco disagreed and ruled in January 2016 that animals were not included in copyright law.

Mr. Kerr said that Naruto still lives in the Tangkoko Reserve, where he is fed daily by park workers and is a popular attraction. But crested macaques there are under constant threat by poachers, and the mammals are considered critically endangered.

Correction: September 12, 2017

An earlier version of this article mischaracterized the reason given by the Wikimedia Foundation for declining to remove an image of the monkey Naruto from its site. The company said that the photograph was in the public domain, not that Naruto owned it.

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