Amicus Brief in PETA Monkey Selfie Case

Added By FourthEstate - Aug 9, 2016 - Court and Legal


Primatologist tells Appeals Court that Macaques are, super smart, so they should totally get copyrights


Naruto, like other macaques, had likely made the connection between manipulation of the camera as an item and the sound of the shutter and the changing image in the lens as the shutter clicked. This may have been interesting for Naruto as he was noted as performing this behavior many times. It is likely that he had seen the human manipulation of the camera and heard the sounds it made and, as is common for macaques, became curious to investigate it on his own. This in no way assumes Naruto had any cognizance of the concept of a photograph but rather that the actions and noises made by the camera were enticing and that through explorative manipulation Naruto was able to cause the camera to make such sounds/actions. Naruto intentionally engaged in interactions with the camera.

Particularly relevant for this case, macaques can frequently understand basic correlations between acts of object manipulation and specific results. There is no question that macaques manipulate material objects with an expectation of specific outcomes. They understand, for example, that by hitting snail shells with rocks, they can crack open and retrieve the snail. Naruto’s behavior in creating the photographs in dispute is consistent with a macaque’s interest in and capacity for sophisticated object manipulation. Naruto certainly understood that he was intentionally engaged in actions with an object that was stimulating. He could recognize the association between his actions and the shutter movement and sound. These photographs are not the result of an accident; they result from specific and intentional manipulation of the camera by Naruto.


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