A US appeals court has favoured humans over animals in a copyright lawsuit filed over a series of selfies taken by a monkey.

US copyright law does not allow lawsuits that seek to give animals the rights to photographs or other original work, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

Copyright infringement can only be claimed on behalf of humans, the court said.

The unanimous, three-judge panel upheld a lower court ruling that dismissed the lawsuit by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) against a UK-based photographer whose camera was used by a crested macaque to take the photos in 2011.

Peta’s 2015 suit against wildlife photographer David Slater sought financial control of the photographs – including a now-famous selfie of the monkey grinning – for the benefit of the animal named Naruto.

Jeff Kerr, general counsel for Peta, said the group was reviewing the opinion and had not decided yet whether it would appeal.

“Naruto should be considered the author and copyright owner, and he shouldn’t be treated any differently from any other creator simply because he happens to not be human,” Kerr said.

The problem, however, is that copyright law did not “expressly authorise animals to file copyright infringement suits”, 9th Circuit Judge Carlos Bea said in the ruling.

The judge said the law reserved that power only for humans.