Thursday, February 27, 2014

9th Circuit: Court Should Order Removal of "Innocence of Muslims" From YouTube

In Garcia v. Google, Inc., (9th Cir., Feb. 26, 2014), the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, held that a preliminary injunction should be granted to require the controversial film "Innocence of Muslims" to be removed from YouTube. The suit was filed by Cindy Lee Garcia who acted in a portion of the film.  As explained by the court:
The film’s writer and producer ...cast Garcia in a minor role [in a film with the working title "Desert Warrior."] Garcia was ... paid approximately $500 for three and a half days of filming. “Desert Warrior” never materialized. Instead, Garcia’s scene was used in an anti-Islamic film titled “Innocence of Muslims.” Garcia first saw “Innocence of Muslims” after it was uploaded to and she discovered that her brief performance had been partially dubbed over so that she appeared to be asking, “Is your Mohammed a child molester?”
These, of course, are fighting words to many faithful Muslims and, after the film aired on Egyptian television, there were protests that generated worldwide news coverage.  An Egyptian cleric issued a fatwa, calling for the killing of everyone involved with the film, and Garcia soon began receiving death threats. She responded by taking a number of security precautions and asking that Google remove the video from YouTube.
As summarized by the court:
The panel concluded that the plaintiff established a likelihood of success on the merits of her claim of [copyright] infringement of her performance within the film because she proved that she likely had an independent interest in the performance and that the filmmaker did not own an interest as a work for hire and exceeded any implied license to use the plaintiff’s performance.
Volokh Conspiracy has an extensive analysis of the decision. (See prior related posting.)

UPDATE: On Feb. 28, the 9th Circuit issued a revised preliminary injunction (full text) making it clear that the injunction "does not preclude the posting or display of any version of “Innocence of Muslims” that does not include Cindy Lee Garcia’s performance." [Thanks to Volokh Conspiracy for the lead.]