Appeals court in San Francisco rules that anti-Islam film Innocene of Islam removed after global outcry should not be banned from YouTube
An appeals court in San Francisco has lifted the ban on showcasing a US-produced film called Innocence of Muslims on YouTube, which had ignited global riots after its release in 2012.
Last year, Google was ordered by the federal court to remove the controversial movie from YouTube that had taken a dig at Prophet Muhammad.
Google has said: “We’re pleased with this latest ruling.”
“We have long believed that the previous ruling was a misapplication of copyright law”
But no decision has yet been made over whether to reinstate the film on YouTube.
Actress Cindy Lee Garcia who had sued Google to remove the footage stated that she was fooled into appearing in the video and overdubbed for five seconds. When the district court refused her request, she appealed and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Google to take the video down, despite branding Garcia’s copyright claim as “doubtful”.
Google asked the court to consider the order again, on the grounds that Garcia’s appearance in the film should not give her any rights to copyright. The court did consider the decision; however, it took 15 months to do so.
Garcia received death threats after appearing in the film, but that should have no effect over the appeal court’s original decision.
Released as a trailer, Ms Garcia in the film seems to ask whether the Prophet is a child molester. However, she said that she had been told that she would be performing in a completely different film and the lines were dubbed unknowingly after filming.
However, Google reasoned that only the film-maker, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, owned the copyright, and, therefore, Ms Garcia had no right to demand its removal. The appeals court agreed to the plea.
Judge M Margaret McKeown wrote that “In this case, a heartfelt plea for personal protection is juxtaposed with the limits of copyright law and fundamental principles of free speech.”
“We are sympathetic to her plight. Nonetheless, the claim against Google is grounded in copyright law, not privacy, emotional distress, or tort law, and Garcia seeks to impose speech restrictions under copyright laws meant to foster rather than repress free expression.”
Judge McKeown also noted that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was currently in prison for unlinked offences.
“The decision short-changes the threats on the life of Cindy Lee Garcia who did not voluntarily participate in the hateful message that the controversial trailer about the Prophet Muhammad espoused around the world,” wrote the actress’s lawyer in a statement, reports Reuters.
The film’s release in September 2012 had sparked global protests leaving several people dead. Google and YouTube have however indicated that they wont the film as of now.