Media Law Letter Guest Article: Ninth Circuit Orders Take-Down of “Innocence of Muslims” Video in Novel and Controversial Application of Copyright Law


Reminding one of the expression that bad facts can make, at least in the eyes of many, bad law, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Google to remove from YouTube all or part of a film entitled “Innocence of Muslims” based on an actress’ claim that she retained a copyright interest in her independently copyrightable contribution to a joint work. Garcia v. Google, Inc., No. 12-57302, slip op. at 4, 14 (9th Cir. Feb. 26, 2014).

Many commentators have expressed alarm over the ruling, but the Ninth Circuit has declined to rehear en banc its panel’s denial of a stay of its order directing Google to remove all or part of the film from its platforms worldwide.

The Dispute and the Lawsuit
Cindy Garcia was paid $500 for three and a half days of filming for a minor role in what she was told would be “an adventure film set in ancient Arabia” with the working title “Desert Warrior.” Instead of “Desert Warrior,” however, Garcia’s scene was used in a film entitled “Innocence of Muslims,” which, unbeknownst to Garcia, contained Arabic dubbing and subtitles which made it appear that Garcia was speaking words offensive to many Muslims.

Excerpted from the Media Law Letter, April 18, 2014. To view full article, click here (subscription required).

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