Primate Expert says Monkeys can be Authors - IP Blog
August 11, 2016

In January a judge in the Northern District of California dismissed a complaint which asked that a monkey named Naruto be the owner of a copyright in a photograph. The order of dismissal can be downloaded here. The court held that there was no standing under the Copyright Act since a monkey is not an “author,” even though there is no definition of that term in the Act. But the court stated that the 9th Circuit has observed that the Act has left the term undefined to provide for flexibility.

Seizing upon this dicta, this amicus brief filed by Professor Agustin Fuentes contends that Naruto is an author since the action by the monkey of taking the photo was purposeful, voluntary, and the animal is self-aware. The Professor contends that the Act should be interpreted to be consistent with current indisputable scientific consensus, and that the 9th Circuit has held that copyright law “has been one of gradual expansion in the types of works accorded protection.”

See also the Star Trek episode “The Measure of a Man,” where the android Data is proven sentient to prevent disassembly.


John Carson
John Carson
Of Counsel

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