A U.S. appeals court sided with photographer David Slater in a years-long legal saga around a grinning photo of a black monkey that became an internet sensation in 2011.
In 2016, a judge ruled that an animal couldn't own a copyright, but PETA appealed the decision.
Naruto took a "selfie" using photographer David Slater's camera in Indonesia. The photos, captured when the monkey grabbed Slater's camera, posed and clicked, became an instant hit, appearing in newspapers, magazines, websites and on TV shows around the world.
The court found that PETA couldn't represent Naruto as a "next friend" because it couldn't establish it had a relationship with the monkey allowing to serve as a legal guardian in a court proceeding and because current law didn't grant animals such legal representation.
"I so hope that wild animals are granted more and more fundamental rights in the future - like rights to dignity, survival, homeland, and their evolutionary privileges", Slater wrote in a statement posted on his Facebook page.
But the court refused, saying a decision in this "developing area of the law" would help guide lower courts and considerable public resources had been spent on the case.
The judge said Mr Slater is entitled to lawyers' fees and sent the case back to a district court to determine the amount.
The judges involved in the case concluded that "next friends" can not represent animals and the lawsuit was thrown out of court. He said the move led him to believe PETA's "real motivation in this case was to advance its own interests, not Naruto's". "PETA began this case purportedly seeking not only an injunction, but also a judgment declaring Naruto to be the author and copyright owner of the Monkey Selfies with all attendant rights and privileges under law", Smith wrote. It remains unclear what claims PETA purported to be "settling", since the court was under the impression this lawsuit was about Naruto's claims, and per PETA's motion, Naruto was "not a party to the settlement", nor were Naruto's claims settled therein. Nonetheless, we conclude that this monkey - and all animals, since they are not human - lacks statutory standing under the Copyright Act.
Neither the photographer, David Slater, nor Naruto the selfie-taking monkey own the photographs.