Saturday, September 26, 2015

More monkey business (UPDATED)

Apparently a lawsuit has been filed over the famous monkey selfie ... on behalf of the monkey.  I kid you not.  Slate's Jordan Weissmann gets this one right, I think:

"First, it's obvious that copyright is a sideshow here. The lawsuit is part of a thus-far-unsuccessful line of 'animal personhood' cases, which have tried to claim that various fauna deserve rights similar to homo sapiens. These are, suffice to say, a bit controversial, seeing as they would upend everything from scientific testing on animals to, possibly, the existence of zoos.  ...  Even if you are the sort who believes that animals should be entitled to some human rights, however, extending that idea to intellectual property law is patently idiotic. Copyrights exist in order to encourage more artists, writers, and musicians to create new work by making sure they can earn money off of their labor. ... Giving a macaque a copyright, meanwhile, does not promote jack. You cannot incentivize a monkey to spend more time behind a camera by dangling out the promise of financial compensation. ... OK. So, PETA filed a silly lawsuit. In other news, it was warm in Florida last week, and Starbucks is doing a brisk business in pumpkin spice lattes. The reason this suit is particularly galling, though, is that, in this case, the group has sued not a massive corporation with a significant legal budget, but a random nature photographer, who will likely have to drag himself into court and quite possibly spend some of his own money to defend this ludicrous claim, at least until a judge has the decent sense to dismiss it."

UPDATE:  Howard Wasserman at PrawfsBlawg:  "The lawsuit raises an interesting (although I believe easy) question of statutory standing and the zone of interests of the copyright laws--namely, whether a non-human enjoys rights under the statute. This article explains why the answer should be no."