WHAT IN THE GOD’S NAME? – The title of this post is pretty mild, as I’m trying not to swear (too much) at The Daily Chrenk, but once in a while, in a world which is seemingly already spinning out of control, you read a story that makes you seriously question how far we are from an armageddon:

A US appeals court has debated whether or not a monkey can own the copyright to a selfie, while the photographer whose camera captured the famous image watched a livestream of the proceedings from his home in the UK.

David Slater could not afford the air fare to San Francisco to attend the hearing on Wednesday. Nor can he afford to replace his broken camera equipment, or pay the attorney who has been defending him since the crested black macaque sued him in 2015, and is exploring other ways to earn an income.

The story of the monkey selfie began in 2011, when Slater traveled to Sulawesi, Indonesia, and spent several days following and photographing a troop of macaques. Slater has long maintained that the selfies were the result of his ingenuity in coaxing the monkeys into pressing the shutter while looking into the lens, after he struggled to get them to keep their eyes open for a wide-angle close-up.

“It wasn’t serendipitous monkey behavior,” he said. “It required a lot of knowledge on my behalf, a lot of perseverance, sweat and anguish, and all that stuff.”

The photographs became popular, and Slater said that he earned a few thousand pounds – enough to cover the cost of the trip to Indonesia. But the images became the subject of a complicated legal dispute in 2014, when Slater asked the blog Techdirt and Wikipedia to stop using them without permission.

The websites refused, with Wikipedia claiming that the photograph was uncopyrightable because the monkey was the actual creator of the image. The US Copyright Office subsequently ruled that animals cannot own copyrights…

In 2015, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) filed a suit against Slater on behalf of the macaque, which it identified as a six-year-old male named Naruto, claiming that the animal was the rightful owner of the copyright. A judge ruled against Peta in 2016, saying that animals were not covered by the Copyright Act. Peta appealed to the ninth circuit court of appeals, which heard oral arguments on Wednesday.

Among the points of contention were whether Peta has a close enough relationship to Naruto to represent it in court, the value of providing written notice of a copyright claim to a community of macaques, and whether Naruto is actually harmed by not being recognized as a copyright-holder.

PETA, you are a f***ing disgrace. And it’s a disgrace that an utterly ridiculous case like this is clogging up the American legal system. There truly are too many lawyers in the world.

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