LSJ - October 2017

Mailbag LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

interfered with his ability to make money from photographs. Every social justice movement in history has advanced by challenging the status quo. PETA US’ argument in court on behalf of Naruto, a free male crested macaque monkey, is making legal history – whatever the outcome. Taking a fresh look at the ways in which things have long been done and whether they still make sense isn’t just beneficial to society – it’s also a vital measure of human progress. Naruto intentionally picked up a photographer’s unattended camera in an Indonesian jungle, watched his reflection in the lens, and made various faces while continually pressing the shutter button and creating several photos, including the now-famous “monkey selfie,” in which he appears to be smiling for the camera. It is undisputed, even by the camera’s owner, that Naruto made the cause- change to his reflection in the camera lens, resulting in his impromptu photo shoot. The US Copyright Act and case law make clear that under these circumstances, the resulting photos are owned by whoever takes the photographs – not by the owner of the camera. There isn’t (and shouldn’t be) anything controversial about PETA US’ request that the court acknowledge Naruto’s ownership of the copyright to the photographs that he and-effect connection between pressing the shutter button and the

reform, slippery slopes and opening of the floodgates are unhelpful distractions. Well may an ideal aspiration be to “allow the natural course of our lives to unfold as our creator designed” as Paddy Curran suggests (August LSJ ), but quite a lot has changed since then. Medical science has achieved an extraordinary life-span extension. Dying has become a far longer, often agonising process managed with surgical intervention, Despite contraception, one child policies, and ongoing global conflict casualties, population has exploded to the point of threatening our survival. It is time we took responsibility for our impact on the planet and for the horrible pain and misery inflicted on people at the end of life as a direct result of the wonders of medical science. Most advanced countries have enacted voluntary euthanasia legislation long ago. Some countries even exit with dignity. Others are debating allowing children with a terminal illness to go early. We don’t subject our beloved domestic pets to suffer unduly when death comes knocking. Why can’t we afford the same human right to ourselves? Stephen Pratt, Coffs Harbour life-support systems, or palliative care. Quality of life is an early casualty. allow people who have “grown weary of life” to

country’s judicial officers. The implications of this social problem for the legal system are clear. I urge practitioners to learn more about East Timor’s legal development and to support CSO’s such as JSMP in monitoring and identifying problematic issues in the legal system. JSMP is the only source of court reporting in East Timor and has a long history of support of the rule of law even to the extent of challenging government interventions that appear to violate democratic principles. Recalling historical ties with the East Timorese people going back to WW2, our betrayal when Indonesia invaded and seized East Timorese sovereignty in 1975, the military intervention INTERFET in 1999 when East Timor gained independence, the chaos of 24 years of the suspension of the rule of law and countless rights violations, crimes against humanity and war crimes, it is worth considering ways in which the legal community can engage with, encourage and support our colleagues in East Timor. Perhaps an act of solidarity by our Judges with the East Timorese judges would be a good way to start. Warren L. Wright BA LLB Unhelpful distractions The Law Society ought to be supporting sensible voluntary euthanasia law reform. Clouding the basic issue with arguments about the nanny state, administrative law

undeniably took. The lawsuit is simply asking the court to allow PETA US to administer the copyright for the benefit of Naruto and his community of macaques and thereby help preserve the habitat of this critically endangered species. If this case succeeds, it will be the first time that a nonhuman animal has been declared the owner of property rather than a piece of property. It will also be the first time that a right beyond the basic entitlements to food, shelter, water, and veterinary care has been extended to a nonhuman animal. Granting those rights is simply the ethical thing to do. We’re at a point in history when we can no longer deny that nonhuman animals have an inherent worth – a value completely separate from their usefulness to humans. Jeffrey S Kerr Esq, General Counsel, PETA Foundation Assaults on judges I draw the profession’s attention to a worrying problem in our close neighbour, East Timor (Timor-Leste) – a spate of assaults on the judges. There have been several physical assaults, threats and intimidation of judges of late. The most recent occurred on 8 June 2017, when a judge from the Baucau District Court was assaulted. Civil society organisation the Judicial System Monitoring Program issued a press release condemning the State’s failure to provide efficacious security to the

12 LSJ I ISSUE 38 I OCTOBER 2017

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