Great strides have been made in animal rights. People now understand the plight of the cattle raped for the food industry, and mermaids finally have their voice. However, true egalitarians – those who understand that fully equal rights should belong not to just everyone, but to everything – know that we’re a long way from total equality. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) continues to push the boundaries, however, striving ever forward into brave new territory. Thanks to their efforts, the jovial but brave Naruto – a free-living crested macaque in Indonesia – was able to argue his rights to hold the copyright of his own selfie photo before the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Well, actually Naruto’s PETA provided attorney, David Schwarz, argued the case for him. Apparently, Naruto was unable to appear in person – we suspect unconstitutional immigration laws are to blame.
Naruto had been enjoying the many pleasure of the Sulawesi wildlife reserve – his favorite resort – when British nature photographer David Slater entered his life and changed it forever. After ignoring Slater’s advances long enough to realize the man wasn’t going to give up, Naruto finally agreed to one photo. Naruto took the selfie, and the man left. The problem was solved, and everything went back to normal – or so Naruto thought until word of the Brit’s illegal use of his photo reached his ears.
When Naruto discovered Slater’s monkey business, he immediately contacted PETA for representation. The case bounced around lower courts, and PETA appealed at each denial. Wednesday, the Ninth Circuit Court finally held a forty-five-minute hearing to take the arguments of the attorneys – Schwarz argued for Naruto and Andrew Dhuey for the photographer. Naruto would have been present if possible, but his visa was denied. In his absence, the humans of America weren’t taking him seriously.
The Chicago Tribune reports:
A federal judge ruled against PETA and the monkey last year, saying he lacked the right to sue because there was no indication that Congress intended to extend copyright protection to animals.
The court did not reach a decision Wednesday, but judges grilled the PETA attorney in Naruto’s absence. They questioned PETA’s right to represent him and his right to hold copyrights. They saw no way for him to profit from the damages should he win – and even implied that Naruto, a mere monkey, was hardly aware of the issue. Jokes were made, and laughter resounded. Are PETA and Naruto the only ones taking the simian’s rights seriously? Such blatant racism is appalling! Dhuey called the case a publicity stunt for PETA, and joked that “Naruto made a tactical mistake by not appearing in court.”
“It’s like he doesn’t even care,” quipped Dhuey before walking away from the cameras. But PETA knows that Naruto does care – and so should we. Be brave little monkey – PETA will not give in quietly, even if the judges rule against you. Attorney Angela Dunning finally asked the right question: “Where does it end? If a monkey can sue for copyright infringement, what else can a monkey do?” It ends when all creatures share the same rights – human or otherwise. And a “monkey” can do anything you can do, Angela, anything.