‘Monkey See, Monkey Sue:’ What Will They Think Of Next?

by | 01.08.2016 | 6:48pm

“A monkey, an animal rights organization, and a primatologist walk into federal court… What seems like the setup for a punchline is really happening. It should not be happening… Monkey see, monkey sue is not a good law.”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a macaque they've named Naruto. The above statement comes from a motion to dismiss that lawsuit, written by the lawyers of the defendant David Slater. According to National Public Radio, a federal judge ruled on the lawsuit on Wednesday, determining that the Copyright Act does not extend to animals.

The copyright lawsuit revolves around a photo taken of the macaque – while the camera used to take the photograph is owned by Slater, Naruto is the one who actually “tripped the shutter.” That's right: a monkey took a selfie, and PETA is fighting for that monkey's right to own the photo's copyright.

In this case, the judge's ruling passes the burden of defining animal rights to Congress. Judge William Orrick wrote that if Congress and the President “think animals should have the right of copyright, they're free, I think, under the Constitution, to do that.”

The fact remains that a lawsuit filed on behalf of a monkey made it all the way to federal court. It's an argument that has polarized human beings for a long time: are animals pieces of property, or do they have legal rights?

And what could this mean for horse racing and other equine sports?

Read more about the lawsuit at NPR.com.

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