Advertisement

Google gets new hearing in 'Innocence of Muslims' copyright case

Google gets new hearing in 'Innocence of Muslims' copyright case
A scene from the trailer for the film "Innocence of Muslims" is shown. (http://www.youtube.com)

Google Inc. will head back to federal appeals court over a controversial decision that forced the Internet giant to take down an anti-Muslim video earlier this year.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday said it would rehear the case that sided with an actress featured in an inflammatory movie posted on YouTube called "Innocence of Muslims."

Advertisement

In February, the court's 2-1 decision said Cindy Lee Garcia never consented to being in the movie and her performance may be protected by copyright law.

"While answering a casting call for a low-budget amateur film doesn't often lead to stardom, it also rarely turns an aspiring actress into the subject of a fatwa," Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote for the majority. "But that's exactly what happened to Cindy Lee Garcia when she agreed to act in a film with the working title 'Desert Warrior.'"

But the adventure film "Desert Warrior" never materialized, and Garcia's performance for that movie was later included in "Innocence of Muslims." The actress said her voice was dubbed over to make an anti-Muslim remark, and she was forced to leave her home because of threats.

Mark Basseley -- who also goes by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and Sam Bacile -- wrote and produced the film and paid Garcia $500 for 3½ days of work, the court said.

An 11-judge panel will revisit the case in December. Google said it is pleased with the 9th Circuit's decision to reexamine the case because it strongly disagreed with the initial decision.

Garcia's attorney, Cris Armenta, showed no signs of backing down. Armenta said she will continue to advance the actress' copyright interests and fight for "her right to be free from death threats."

The contested video, marketed as a 13-minute trailer, portrayed the Prophet Mohammed as a sexual deviant; for many Muslims, depicting the prophet in any form is considered blasphemous.

"Innocence of Muslims" triggered a deluge of protests across the Middle East and northern Africa. One Egyptian cleric issued a fatwa calling for the death of every actor in the video, according to the court opinion. The movie was banned in several Muslim countries.

Advertisement
Advertisement