In Wednesday’s decision on Garcia v. Google Inc., a three-judge panel for the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered YouTube to remove the video “Innocence of Muslims” from its platform. It also reinstated Cindy Lee Garcia’s copyright lawsuit against Google.
The 2012 video, created by filmmaker Mark Basseley Youssef, led to riots and deaths throughout the Middle East. The 13-minute film depicts the Prophet Mohammed as a “fool and a sexual deviant.”
President Obama and other world leaders had asked YouTube to take down the video, but YouTube resisted due to “unwarranted government censorship” that “would violate the Google-owned company’s free speech protections.”
Garcia filed the copyright infringement suit against Google after claiming to receive death threats for her brief appearance in the 2012 video. She argues that she retains the copyright interests to her individual performance in the film.
Yousef paid Garcia $500 for her five-second appearance. Garcia’s attorney Cris Armeta told the AP that Garcia would never had agreed to appear in the movie is she had known its true nature.
In its 37-page opinion, the Ninth Circuit agreed that Garcia had an interest in her performance and that the filmmaker had exceeded any implied license to use her performance.
The panel ordered the take down holding that Garcia established:
- The likelihood that she would face irreparable harm, and
- A sufficient causal connection between the copyright infringement and the alleged harm.
Google has removed the video and is appealing the decision.