Legal Rights for Monkeys?

In 2011, a photographer named David Slater left his camera unattended in an Indonesian rainforest. When he returned, he found that a macaque had used his camera and taken a selfie!

The photo of the monkey soon went viral worldwide, catching the attention of animal activist group PETA. Mr Slater found himself embroiled in a lawsuit from PETA, claiming that the monkey was the true owner of the photo and that all profits earned from the photo should belong to it.

The case was heard in court, and the judges decided that animals were not intended to be protected by the Copyright Act and that the monkey was therefore not eligible to claim the profits. However, Mr Slater also agreed to donate 25% of any future revenue from the photo towards charities protecting macaques.

Read the report here.

Questions to Consider

1. Do you agree with the judges’ decision? Explain your rationale.
2. What rights should/ can be given to animals?
3. What are some ways in which animals can be protected from exploitation?

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