For anyone who has been following the copyright litigation involving the infamous "monkey selfie", the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals this week seems to have brought the matter to a close for now, ruling (after relevant parties reached a settlement) that animals cannot hold copyrights under U.S. copyright law, a proposition that no copyright lawyer probably ever doubted.
PETA had been pursuing the action on behalf of the macaque monkey who had used freelance photographer David Slater's camera to take selfies which became an Internet sensation among other things.
Earlier chapters in the litigation had focused on whether Slater himself could claim copyright given that he was not the person who actually took the photographs, but the case took a turn into the more abstract question as to whether the monkey could claim copyright. That question seems for now to have been put to rest. It's certainly been an interesting case to follow, and it likely has ramifications for questions about digital technology in terms of claiming copyright in works made by machines and other technological devices. It's typically been accepted that U.S. copyright law requires the efforts of a human creator in order to claim copyright, but questions have arisen about whether machines programmed by humans meet that definition. Creations by animals have been regarded as a related issue.
A summary of this week's decision is available here.