In a landmark decision, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit awarded partial copyright and royalty rights to a famous photographer whose selfie set the world on fire when it was discovered among freelance photographer David J. Slater’s pictures on his camera roll from a 2011 trip to Indonesia’s Sulawesi nature reserve.
The photographer, who became famous overnight, was a six-year-old resident of Indonesia named Naruto whose “bucktooth smile and wide amber eyes” made him an internet sensation.
After capturing one of the most iconic selfies in the world, Naruto had to fight for the rights to his photograph, even if he used another photographer’s equipment.
In the United States, copyright law grants ownership to the person who capture the image, not to the owner of the equipment used, an important distinction when one considers that Naruto surreptitiously snapped this picture of himself.
The image’s discovery and ensuing fame could be attributed to David J. Slater’s acumen in recognizing the photo’s genius, but this is only speculation.