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Judge In Monkey Selfie Case Rules That An Animal Can't Own Photos

Update Date: Jan 11, 2016 12:25 PM EST

One macaque monkey took a lot of handsome selfies. But he has been found by a federal judge to not be the copyright owner of his images, according to the Guardian.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick said on Wednesday that "while Congress and the president can extend the protection of law to animals as well as humans, there is no indication that they did so in the Copyright Act," according to CBC News.

In 2014, the U.S. Copyright Office said that works "produced by nature, animals or plants" would not be permitted to get copyright protection, according to The Telegraph.

It was in 2011 when the monkey took his selfies. The photographer David Slater said that the camera had been left unattended deliberately, so that animals could get drawn to it, according to USA Today.

The Wikimedia Foundation and other institutions said that the images were part of the public sphere, which triggered off a public debate and argument about the photos copyright.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said the animal was a six-year-old male called Naruto. It argued that he was the true copyright holder.

However, in 2011, Slater got a British copyright for the images and wants them to be recognized internationally, clarifying on his Facebook page  that it is PETA and the media "who create the idea that there is somehow a loophole allowing them to use my images, oft citing the U.S. Copyright Office in their defense of willful infringement."

Slater does not believe that "Naruto," is the real monkey. He is "a fraudulent 6-year-old male monkey falsely impersonating the one in my photos."

"I'm not the person to weigh into this. This is an issue for Congress and the president," Orrick told the courts. "If they think animals should have the right of copyright, they're free, I think, under the Constitution, to do that."

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