Google Inc. beats Cindy Lee Garcia’s bid to block her appearance in “Innocence of Muslims,” an anti-Muslim film. US Circuit Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote for the majority, “Garcia’s theory can be likened to ‘copyright cherry-picking,’ which would enable any contributor from a costume designer down to an extra or best boy to claim copyright in random bits and pieces of a unitary motion picture”.
The film has sparked violence and debates about internet censorship and freedom of speech. After Garcia received death threats, she sought to have the clip removed from YouTube. An earlier decision by the San Francisco-based court was in Garcia’s favour which triggered Netflix Inc. and Twitter Inc. to join in Google’s case. The ruling would give minor participants of a production the power to shut down movie distribution. They complained that it would be unworkable particularly for online service providers.
Garcia said she’s been hired for the movie “Desert Warrior” but her part had been dubbed in the YouTube clip. She said an injunction should be granted to her for her independent copyright interest in her performance in the film. However, Google said such a ruling would upend the entertainment industry and the court agrees.
In a prepared statement, Dorsey & Whitney LLP lawyer Bruce Ewing who specialize in intellectual property said “The decision today in Google v. Garcia is a resounding victory for Google that will also be viewed very favourably by film and television studios, as well as many copyright practitioners”.
Garcia’s lawyer Cris Amenta said given Cindy Lee Garcia’s limited financial resources, she probably won’t appeal to the US Supreme Court. Also, Garcia wants to put the matter to rest. More importantly, the decision short-changes the threats on her life as she did not voluntarily participate in the hateful message conveyed in the film.
“Innocence of Muslims” is a YouTube clip depicting the Prophet Mohammad in a negative light. The controversial video sparked riots in the Middle East. In addition, the film’s actor and producer Nakoula Basseley Nakoula even received death threats.