YouTube ordered to take down anti-Muslim film that sparked violence across Middle East after actress argued it infringes her copyright
- Lawsuit was filed by an actress who appeared in the video
- Cindy Lee Garcia said YouTube posting infringed her copyright
- Court’s ruling addressed control of the clip, not its contents
- 14-minute film depicts Mohammad as a pedophile and womanizer
- It sparked violence in late 2012, but YouTube refused to take it down
YouTube has been ordered by a federal court to take down an anti-Muslim film that sparked violence in many parts of the Middle East.
The decision by a divided three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco reinstated a lawsuit filed against YouTube by an actress who appeared in the video.
The 9th Circuit said the YouTube posting infringed actress Cindy Lee Garcia’s copyright to her role, and she, not just the filmmaker, could demand its removal.
‘Misled’: Cindy Lee Garcia arrives at court in September. She has now been told to take down an anti-Muslim film that sparked violence in many parts of the Middle East
The court’s ruling addressed control of the clip, not its contents, which YouTube determined didn’t violate its standards.
‘Garcia’s performance was used in a way that she found abhorrent and her appearance in the film subjected her to threats of physical harm and even death,’ Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote for the majority court.
‘Despite these harms, and despite Garcia’s viable copyright claim, Google refused to remove the film from YouTube.’
Garcia said she was duped into appearing in the film by the man behind it, Mark Basseley Youssef.
She said the script she saw referenced neither Muslims nor Mohammad, and her voice was dubbed over after filming.
Cindy Lee Garcia, pictured in the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ trailer
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The 14-minute film, ‘Innocence of Muslims,’ depicts Mohammad as a religious fraud, pedophile and womanizer.
It sparked violence in late 2012, but YouTube rebuffed requests from President Barack Obama to take it down, arguing that only the filmmaker and not the actress owned the copyright.
The court said the actress owned the copyright to her performance because she thought it was for another film unrelated to what ultimately aired.
Garcia was the first actress to speak out against the director of the incendiary anti-Islam film that prompted global protests.
The grandmother was quick to announce that she and the other actors had no idea that the film’s producer, who they knew as Sam Bacile, wanted to use their acting to create an anti-Muslim movie.
‘I’m getting horrible death threats over the internet, people saying they’re going to cut me up, chop me up and kill me and my family,’ Garcia said.
Her personal Facebook page, her professional modeling page, and the page of the Flame of Fire Outreach Church where she serves as an ordained minister have all been inundated with threats from individuals angered by the movie.