Court to Re-hear Trial on Anti-Muslim Video

'Innocence of Muslims' raised riots in Arab world, leading court to order YouTube removal - now faulty legal claims behind order reviewed.

Ari Yashar ,

Muslims pray on Temple Mount facing Mecca
Muslims pray on Temple Mount facing Mecca
Sliman Khader/Flash 90

A federal appeals court in California will reconsider a February decision to order YouTube to remove an anti-Muslim video which triggered protests and violence in the Middle East, a decision originally made after an actress claimed she was tricked into performing in it.

The court on Monday will hear arguments by Google, which owns YouTube, disputing the removal of "Innocence of Muslims," reports Associated Press.

American actress Cindy Lee Garcia brought a lawsuit claiming she was tricked into appearing in the film, without realizing its provocative anti-Muslim slant, and received death threats as a result of it.

Garcia received $500 for acting in "Desert Warrior," but ended up appearing in a five-second scene in the disputed clip in which she was dubbed to ask if Mohammed, the founder of Islam, was a child molester.

In handing down the February decision, Judge Alex Kozinski wrote "these, of course, are fighting words to many faithful Muslims and, after the film aired on Egyptian television, there were protests that generated worldwide news coverage. 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 (Islamic bounty)."

Google in response argued the copyright to the film was owned by Mark Basseley Youssef, who wrote the script, produced the film and dubbed Garcia's dialogue, and one judge of the three who disagreed with the decision noted Garcia had no ownership rights.

The attempt now to reverse the court order sees Google supported by other prominent internet sites and filmmakers speaking out against censorship and in favor of free speech.

Copyright lawyer Alex Lawrence of New York, who isn't connected to the case, told Associated Press that the decision will likely be overruled.

"There's a lot of sympathy for Miss Garcia," Lawrence said. "She got paid $500 and received death threats. Everyone feels sympathy for her, but using copyright in this way is a real problem for a lot of industries."

After the film federal prosecutors cracked down on Youssef, accusing him of using false names in violation of probation conditions in a 2010 check fraud case. He was imprisoned in 2012 and released September 2013.



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