Statutory law is for humans unless it expressly grants animals the right to use it

This is about animal rights and concerns the interesting case of the crested macaque monkey who took a photograph of himself while he smiled in 2011. It was the first animal selfie and it became a very valuable photograph. The monkey used a camera belonging to David Slater. He claimed copyright in the photograph. PETA filed an argument at court that the monkey had copyright in the photograph. There was the possibility that an animal could be regarded as a sentient being by the US courts. It would have been a big leap towards rights being applied equally towards animals and people.

However, the judges have decided that unless statutory law specifically grants rights to animals to use the law, it does not. Statutory law is law made by politicians at Congress in the US and Parliament in the UK.

The Ninth Circuit Judge Carlos Bea said in the ruling, “[the copyright law did not] expressly authorize animals to file copyright infringement suits”.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling which also dismissed a lawsuit brought by PETA.

In the lower court, US District Judge William Orrick said in his ruling of 2016 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.”

I have extended that judgement to include all statutory laws which I think is reasonable. The appeals court said that this is a developing area of the law which needed to be clarified. To me, that implies that one day there might be some statutory law which grants rights to animals which are similar to those granted to people. In other words, statutory law which applies to people and animals equally. If that was the case then, theoretically, an animal could bring a lawsuit to the courts through a representative and sue a human! Now that would be a special moment.

The issue is important because there is a need to grant these sorts of rights to animals in order to protect them from abuse and exploitation by humans.

Story from: Daily Mail – Reuters – Sky News

2 thoughts on “Statutory law is for humans unless it expressly grants animals the right to use it”

  1. It’s a shame that this case has almost bankrupted David Slater & caused him & his life some considerable harm

    I agree with laws covering other species for their protection, but as usual PETA have ill chosen their tools. Maybe this is an opening salvo in a war for better protection for us all.

    Did the ape know he/she was creating an image? Probably not.

    In a strange ironic twist, the attention this matter has drawn has resulted in better protection for these apes from the authorities and locals (who incidentaly weren’t averse to killing & eating these apes) tourism has increased also.

    In my view the only being exploited in this issue is David Slater who had the misfortune to get in the path of the destructive, money making, animal hating behemoth that is PETA

    An interesting subject none the less. How will laws develop to best protect ALL of our planet when we are so divide d?

    • You either hate or love PETA. I, too, feel sorry for the photographer because he got a great photograph and he has the copyright in it despite it being taken by the monkey. That said, copyright in photographs has virtually been destroyed by the Internet and particularly by the big Internet companies such as Google, Pinterest and Bing (Microsoft). Their image searches publish billions of photographs on their websites daily from where they can be downloaded onto the desktop of a person’s computer. This must be an infringement of copyright by these companies. Pinterest is built upon copyright infringement because most of the photographs on their website are copyright protected and if you ask them they will remove the photograph but who asks them? We’ve given up, we can’t be bothered any more. Copyright is dead.


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