Fiat Justitia

          Justice is what you do.

          Why We Work For Justice
          The UC Hastings seal carries the words fiat justitia -- Let Justice Be Done. This motto is not a hollow promise; it is who we are and what we do.

          Legally Speaking

          In conversation with UC Hastings Professor Joan C. Williams.

          UC Hastings Professor Joan Williams welcomes U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for a conversation that touches on a broad range of subjects, from opera to marriage to work/life balance, doctrinal questions, and cases from the 1970's to present, including the court's role in establishing individual rights and equal protection. 
          Thursday, October 05, 2017

          When a monkey takes a selfie, who owns the copyright?

          Andrew Dhuey '92 and the infamous “Monkey Selfie” case.
          Sample alt tag.
          A 7-year old crested black macaque named Naruto used camera equipment owned by Dhuey's photographer client David Slater to take this selfie.

          In late 2015, Andrew Dhuey '92 was reading the paper when he came across an article that seemed straight out of The Onion. A group of crested macaques in an Indonesian nature reserve had used a photographer's camera, left unattended on a tripod, to take pictures of themselves.

          The so-called “monkey selfies” went viral, and the photographer, David Slater, later published them in a book. Then, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) filed suit against Slater and his company in federal district court in San Francisco for copyright infringement — on behalf of one of the monkeys, a 7-year old named Naruto.

          “This would be a perfect case for me,” thought Dhuey, an attorney in Berkeley who specializes in intellectual property law. Slater agreed to hire him. Dhuey's two-page brief, filed in January 2016, embraced the humorous nature of the case. “Monkey see, monkey sue is not good law,” he wrote. His argument was simple: “The only pertinent fact in this case is that Plaintiff is a monkey suing for copyright infringement,” because Congress has not given non-human animals standing to sue over such violations.

          “It's the first time I've really done any kind of joking around in something I filed in court. I did it because I thought it would help my client, not for my own sake,” says Dhuey. “As far as I know, this is the first time anybody's made this argument.”

          Dhuey liberally employs humor in his own practice. His LinkedIn profile says he works “at a tremendously important law firm built on the principles of power, prestige and arrogance” and features a profile photo of him in a Chippendales costume. “It's something of a filtering mechanism. I want to be up front about the fact that I'm sort of an oddball,” he says.

          That works well for his clients, most of whom are individual biotechnology inventors. Dhuey has spent more than 25 years as a solo practitioner, after starting his career as a patent litigator at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP. For the past decade, he's focused on petition-stage appellate cases at the U.S. Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. “I got tired of dealing with boring document review and discovery disputes, and I enjoy legal research and writing,” he says.

          Though Dhuey says his greatest achievement in law school was winning the pool tournament at a nearby billiards hall, he credits UC Hastings with setting him on the path to IP law. “Patent law was just starting to take off at that point, and the classes I took were important as I went to work at Pillsbury,” he says.

          Despite years of successful practice, he hasn't lost his passion for the field. “Most patents are worthless, but a relatively small number are worth an absolute fortune. It's high stakes, and I enjoy seeing the inventive genius at work. It's a pleasure to work with people who created these incredible things and defied all the odds,” he says.

          As for the monkey selfie case, Dhuey's client prevailed at the district court, and PETA appealed. They reached an undisclosed settlement in September, which included Slater's agreement to donate a quarter of future revenues from the picture to charities protecting crested macaques in Indonesia. Although the parties have asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to dismiss the appeal, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian think tank that was not involved in the case, has urged the court to issue a ruling upholding the lower court's decision.

          Andrew Dhuey outside the Ninth Circuit

          The ruling will have implications that go beyond animals. “A lot of people are thinking this is going to be an issue when it comes to artificial intelligence,” Dhuey says.

          Now that the case has settled, Dhuey is planning to get a framed picture of the monkey selfie, signed by Slater, to display on his wall. He's pretty sure he won't have to pay Naruto.

          ####

          Go to News Archive

          Share this Story

          Share via Facebook
          Share via TwitterShare via EmailPrint Friendly Version

          Other Recent Stories/ RSS

          Monday, November 20, 2017

          Professor Carol Izumi receives 2018 William Pincus Award for Outstanding Service and Commitment to Clinical Legal Education from the Association of American Law Schools (AALS)

          “Recipients are giants in the field and Carol belongs in their midst,” says Associate Dean Ascanio Piomelli.
          Friday, November 17, 2017

          Exciting New Spring 2018 Courses Focus on the Future

          Grabbing from the headlines and emphasizing innovation, courses like Legal Tech Startups, Advanced Immigration Law, and Stalking and Law will prepare UC Hastings students for next-level legal careers.
          Tuesday, November 14, 2017

          Port pilot John Betz ’96 discusses his non-legal career and the importance of education

          A tragic “Deadliest Catch” moment piqued a lifelong interest in the law and encouraged John to pursue a law degree at UC Hastings.
          Friday, November 03, 2017

          Thinkers & Doers: October 2017

          100 Things Warriors Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die -- Alum appointed Chargé d’Affaires -- The poisonous dynamic over who’s to blame for racism -- Prof. Williams on the Harvey Weinstein Effect -- Two More UC Hastings Grads Receive Judgeships from Gov. Brown -- Jury selection in the Steinle case -- and much more
          Wednesday, November 01, 2017

          Why do drug prices remain so high?

          "Because drug companies block competition," says Professor Feldman in a new study that examines all drugs on the market between 2005 and 2015, identifying and analyzing every instance in which the company added new patents or exclusivities. 
          Go to News Archive