Jenner & Block

David Singer Discusses “Monkey Selfie” Case

Partner David R. Singer is quoted in an article examining the copyright implications of the “monkey selfie” lawsuit which addressed whether a monkey can be deemed an author of a copyrightable work.  Titled “Monkey Scores Settlement, to the Detriment of Robots,” the article in the Daily Journal (subscription required) discusses the highly-publicized lawsuit about a macaque named Naruto who took a now-famous selfie using the camera of a nature photographer.  PETA had been pursuing the litigation on Naruto’s behalf, but the case recently settled out of court.  Mr. Singer, who was not involved in the case, discusses why the case was closely watched by copyright lawyers, noting it may have had less to do with animal rights and more to do with non-human authorship in the emerging field of artificial intelligence (AI).  The lawsuit and others like it shed light on how courts will approach copyright authorship as sophisticated computers increasingly “create” their own literary and artistic works.  Mr. Singer also discussed the impact of artificial intelligence on copyright infringement, and his expectation of future cases which address liability when AI infringes copyrighted works.  “What would happen if a monkey was using Periscope to broadcast the Mayweather fight?  To me, that’s where I think we’re going to see this issue play out,” he said.