WASHINGTON: A US appeals court on Wednesday ordered Google to remove from its YouTube video-sharing website an anti-Islam film that had sparked protests across the Muslim world.
By a 2-1 vote, a panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday rejected Google’s assertion that the removal of the film “Innocence of Muslims,” amounted to a prior restraint of speech that violated the US Constitution.
The plaintiff, Cindy Lee Garcia, had objected to the film after learning that it incorporated a clip she had made for a different movie.Representatives for Google could not immediately be reached for comment.
Actress Cindy Lee Garcia had proved the need to remove the video from YouTube, the appeals court concluded, in part because of ongoing death threats since it sparked violent protests after being first aired by Egyptian television in 2012.
“This is a troubling case,” Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote. “Garcia was duped into providing an artistic performance that was used in a way she never could have foreseen.”Garcia sued after she discovered she was in the video, after efforts to persuade Google to take it down from YouTube were repeatedly rebuffed.
The actress had been cast in a minor role in a film called “Desert Warrior,” and paid $500 by director Mark Basseley Youssef, but the movie never materialised, according to court papers.
The actress discovered her scene had instead been used in the anti-Muslim film, which generated worldwide attention and was at first cited as a cause of the fatal attacks on the Libyan embassy in Benghazi.
In her suit, Garcia maintained that YouTube’s unrivaled popularity gave the film a broad audience, and that she had a right to get it removed because she had been misled by the director and retained copyright protections to her artistic work.
Google argued that taking the video down from YouTube would be futile because it is now in widespread circulation, but the 9th Circuit disagreed.
Judge N. Randy Smith dissented, finding that Garcia did not have a clear protection against the use of her work and that an injunction against Google goes too far. Google can ask the 9th Circuit to rehear the case with an 11-judge panel.
Cris Armenta, a lawyer for Garcia, said she is delighted with the decision.“Ordering YouTube and Google to take down the film was the right thing to do,” Armenta said in an email. “The propaganda film differs so radically from anything that Ms Garcia could have imagined when the director told her that she was being cast in the innocent adventure film.”