A U.S. appeals court ordered YouTube on Wednesday to take down an anti-Muslim film that sparked violent riots in parts of the Middle East and death threats to the actors.
The decision by a divided three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco reinstated a lawsuit filed against YouTube by an actress who appeared briefly in the 2012 video that led to rioting and deaths because of its negative portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad.
Google, which owns YouTube and has removed the clip, said it will appeal the decision.
YouTube resisted calls to take down the video, arguing that the filmmakers and not the actors of “Innocence of Muslims” owned the copyright and only they could remove it.
And typically, that’s the case with the vast majority of clips posted on YouTube — and Hollywood in general — that don’t violate decency laws and policies. But the 9th Circuit said Wednesday that in this case, actress Cindy Lee Garcia retained a copyright claim because she believed she was acting in a different production than the one that ultimately appeared online.
“Had Ms. Garcia known the true nature of the propaganda film the producers were planning, she would never had agreed to appear in the movie,” said Cris Armenta, Garcia’s attorney.
Garcia was paid $500 to appear for five seconds in a film she was told was called “Desert Warrior” that she thought had nothing to do with religion or radical Islam. When the clip was released, her lines were dubbed to have her character asking Muhammad if he was a child molester.
Google argues that the actress had no claim to the film because filmmaker Mark Basseley Youssef wrote the dialogue, managed the entire production and dubbed over Garcia’s dialogue during postproduction editing.
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