Photo: David Slater

PETA may be close to settling its lawsuit involving 'Naruto' the macaque monkey and a selfie it allegedly took using photographer David Slater's camera. Per PETA's 2015 legal claim, Naruto (the monkey) owns the copyright to the image, not Slater, because the animal took the selfie on its own—that lawsuit, which has dragged on for the better part of two years, has left Slater broke.

Slater's troubles began shortly after the photo went viral, as multiple entities refused to remove the image from their publications on claims that Slater wasn't the copyright owner. That boiled over into an official guidance issued by the U.S. Copyright Office, which stated that, under U.S. law, a copyright can only be issued on work created by a human. This effectively left the image without a copyright.

Joining the bandwagon soon after that guidance was issued was PETA, with its 2015 legal claim on behalf of the monkey. PETA argues that the monkey itself owns the copyright because it took the image; all the while, Slater continued to assert his own copyright claim over the image. The matter ultimately ended up in court.

Last month during oral arguments, PETA's attorney was grilled by judges on several topics, including whether the company has a suitable relationship with 'Naruto' the monkey to bring a lawsuit on its behalf, as well as whether a non-human animal has the legal standing to bring a copyright lawsuit. This itself followed a case dismissal by a federal court in California, which found that a monkey isn't legally able to hold the image's copyright under the U.S. Copyright Act.

All signs point toward the courts siding against PETA in this lawsuit, and so it perhaps isn't surprising that PETA is moving toward a settlement of the case. The most recent developments in the legal matter is that PETA and Slater have entered into settlement talks following the aforementioned oral arguments. Per a joint motion filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit:

The parties have agreed on a general framework for a settlement subject to the negotiation and resolution of specific terms. The parties are optimistic that they will be able to reach an agreement that will resolve all claims in this matter.

The terms of this potential settlement weren't detailed.