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Monkey selfie copyright battle ends with a settlement

The simian photographer and his friends are getting a little help.

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David Slater/Wildlife Personalities (and Naruto)
David Slater/Wildlife Personalities (and Naruto)

The battle over who owns the rights to a monkey's selfies has raged for years, but it's coming to a quiet end. Camera owner David Slater, PETA and Blurb have reached a settlement in the case before a federal appeals court could rule whether or not Slater or PETA (on behalf of the monkey, a crested macaque named Naruto) owned the photos. The truce doesn't appear to alter Slater's original court victory, but it will have him donating 25 percent of future revenue from the selfies to charities that protect the habitats of Naruto and his species.

In a statement, Slater and PETA said that the case raised "cutting-edge issues" about the rights of non-human animals, and that they both supported the idea of expanding animals' rights.

For all intents and purposes, Slater got the upper hand. Even as the fight over the photos erupted in earnest, the US Copyright Office was drafting practices that granted ownership rights exclusively to humans -- PETA was bound to face an uphill battle. However, it does serve as a reminder that ownership isn't always easy to determine, especially in an era where artist robots can produce work without human intervention.

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