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TO: Mr. Jonathan S.


DATE: July 29, 2017

RE: Naruto vs. David John Slater Copyright Infringement


The inquiry herein involved is the possible ruling if the Philippine
laws were applied for the copyright appeal on behalf of a monkey against
photographer David Slater.
Sometime in June 2011, British nature photographer David John
Slater travelled to Sulawesi, Indonesia to photograph a group of crested
macaques. Slater narrated that he struggled to get the monkeys to keep their
eyes open for a close- up, so he coaxed one of the monkeys named Naruto,
to press the shutter while looking into the lens. The photos, which became
internationally known as the Monkey Selfies were then published in the
book Wildlife Personalities by the self- publishing company Blurb Ltd.
based in San Francisco, California.
On 2014, the photos have been widely distributed elsewhere by
outlets, including Wikipedia. Slater asked the site to take down the photos
but the online encyclopedia argued that the photo could not be copyrighted
since they were taken by an animal, not a person. While Slater argued that
the British copyright obtained for the photos by his company should be
honored worldwide, the United States Copyright Office issued an updated
compendium of its policies the following year, which included a section
stipulating that it would register copyrights only for works produced by
human beings and that works produced by animals would not qualify, thus
leading to the ruling that anyone could use the image for free.
On 2015, People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals (PETA) filed
its own lawsuit to prove the animal as the rightful owner of the copyright.
An initial ruling upheld the Copyright Office opinion with the grounds that
the US Copyright Act does not give animals standing to own copyright, but
PETA appealed this decision to the US Court of Appeals in San Francisco,
claiming that the said photographs were taken by the monkey and is
therefore entitled to own the copyright just as any person would.

Whether or not David John Slater is liable for Copyright Infringement
and whether or not Naruto, on behalf of PETA, has the right to own and
benefit from the copyright in the Monkey Selfies.
Naruto vs. David John Slater Copyright Infringement Complaint 2

No. Slater is not liable for Copyright Infringement nor does Naruto
have the right to own and benefit from the copyright in the said photos.
Article 37 of the Civil Code of the Philippines provides that juridical
capacity only applies to Natural and Juridical persons, not in animals, which
does not make Naruto entitled for copyright claim.
Moreover, the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines does not
also apply for animals, for it protects the Copyright, clearly defined as a
human right which encompasses anything made with the human mind that is
applied to literary and artistic works.
The act defines Infringement as when one uses the expressions of the
idea of another for ones purposes for the purpose of furthering their
business. Under the same code, (Sec. 216) a person infringes a right
protected under this act when one:
a. Directly commits an infringement;
b. Benefits from the infringing activity of another person who
commits an infringement if the person benefiting has been given
notice of the infringing activity and has the right and ability to
control the activities of the other person; or
c. With knowledge of the infringing activity, induces causes or
materially contributes to the infringing conduct of another.
In my opinion, aside from the fact that the copyright law only applies to
humans and not to animals, Slater did not commit an infringement because
the photo he used for the book was copyrighted by his office in the first
place. Whether Naruto took the picture by himself, Slater still has the
copyright over the photos for those would not be produced without his
intention of going into Tangkoko Reserve in Indonesia to take pictures of the
said group of crested macaques.

The Copyright Law does not entitle animals the right to own
copyright. The only law in the Philippines that concerns the rights of the
animals is the Republic Act 8485, otherwise known as the Animal Welfare
Act of 1998, on which purpose does not include the intellectual property
rights of animals but only provides protection in terms of breeding,
maintaining, keeping treating or training of all animals.
On the other hand, David John Slater can file civil damages against
PETA for violating his freedom to maintain a periodical publication, as
stated in Article 32 of the Civil Code of the Philippines.

Joanna Diane D. Mortel
Naruto vs. David John Slater Copyright Infringement Complaint 3

A. Statutes
1. Animal Welfare Act. (1998). Art. 1

2. Civil Code of the Philippines. (1949). Art. 32 & 37

3. Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines. (1997). Chapter 17, Sec.


B. Websites
1. Bonazzo, J. (2017). People Are Literally Suing Each Other Over the
Rights to a Monkey Selfie. Retrieved July 27, 2017, from

2. The Guardian. (2016). Monkey selfie case: judge rules animal cannot
own his photo copyright. Retrieved July 27, 2017, from

3. Walker, D. (2017). Photographer in Monkey Selfie Case: PETA

Ruining Him to Protect Animals. Retrieved July 27, 2017, from

4. Wong, J.C. (2017). Monkey selfie photographer says hes broke: Im

thinking of dog walking. Retrieved July 27, 2017, from