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Ninth Circuit Shuts Down PETA in the "Monkey Selfie" Appeal

By Barry Werbin

A skeptical three-judge panel from the Ninth Circuit grilled PETA at oral argument over the appeal of the previously settled and unusual re-awakening of the "Monkey Selfie" case.

While PETA discontinued its case on stipulation, it did so only after losing on standing and then filing an appeal. The Ninth Circuit has now used its discretion to deny the parties' joint motion to dismiss the appeal as moot, finding that under Fed. Appellate Rule 42, appellate courts, "an appeal may be dismissed on the appellant's motion on terms agreed to by the parties or fixed by the court," but may chose not to where important policy or other significant matters deserve a court's ruling, including the need for a ruling "to curtail strategic behavior" and where "the investment of public resources already devoted to this litigation will have some return."

The Ninth Circuit found that such circumstances were present here, as to whether animals have standing (to bring a copyright claim) and strategic behavior to avoid a ruling on appeal, observing that "'courts must be particularly wary of abetting 'strategic behavior' on the part of institutional litigants whose continuing interest in the development in the law may transcend their immediate interest in the outcome of a particular case.'"

A copy of the Ninth Circuit's Order filed April 13 is here:E.C.F. 9th Cir. 16-15469.pdf

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