Skip to main content

YouTube must take down explosive 'Innocence of Muslims' video in copyright suit

YouTube must take down explosive 'Innocence of Muslims' video in copyright suit

Share this story

Innocence of Muslims
Innocence of Muslims

Google and YouTube must scrub all copies of "Innocence of Muslims," a low-budget anti-Islam film that drew international protest in 2012, at the behest of an actress who says she received death threats after being duped into a role. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has granted a temporary takedown order on behalf of Cindy Lee Garcia, who filed a copyright claim against Google in an attempt to purge the video from the web. While actors usually give up the right to assert copyright protection when they agree to appear in a film, Garcia says that not only was she never an employee in any meaningful sense, the finished film bore virtually no relation to the one she agreed to appear in. In a majority opinion, Judge Alex Kozinski said she was likely in the right.

It's well established that most people involved in "Innocence of Muslims" had no idea they were appearing in a diatribe against Islam. Garcia was paid $500 for a bit part in sword and sandals movie "Desert Warrior," but she later found her footage had been edited for the new film and overdubbed with one of the most controversial lines: "Is your Mohammed a child molester?" An Egyptian cleric issued a fatwa against her and everyone else involved with the film, and Garcia says she soon began receiving death threats. The video, meanwhile, had been blocked in parts of the Middle East by both Google and governments, and the director was arrested for violating probation after a 2010 conviction for bank fraud. After trying and failing to get Google to remove the film altogether, Garcia filed suit, claiming it was violating the copyright of her performance.

Not only is this not the film Garcia signed up for, it 'isn't intended to entertain at all.'

It's possible for an actor to "own" their performance, but in most productions, they either sign an explicit release or give implied consent by taking the job. In this case, though, a combination of the director's shady dealings and the extreme repurposing of her footage voided that consent. An actor can't simply reject a film because of an unsatisfactory final edit, but "even a broad implied license isn't unlimited," said Kozinski. "The problem isn't that 'Innocence of Muslims' is not an Arabian adventure movie: it's that the film isn't intended to entertain at all. The film differs so radically from anything Garcia could have imagined when she was cast that it can't possibly be authorized by any implied license she granted."

This is a preliminary decision, not a final verdict, but it overturns a lower court ruling that she'd likely consented to appear in the movie and wouldn't suffer major harm if Google left "Innocence of Muslims" up on YouTube. Garcia waited months after the film was uploaded to file her lawsuit, something that could weaken the case, and her part in the film was minimal. But she did file as soon as she started receiving death threats, which changed the situation significantly, and YouTube is a "prominent online platform" that continues to connect her to the controversy. "Death is an 'irremediable and unfathomable' harm," says Kozinski. "To the extent the irreparable harm inquiry is at all a close question, we think it best to err on the side of life." Judge N.R. Smith filed a dissenting opinion, saying that Garcia's role in the film was too negligible to give her any copyright claim, and that it's unclear leaving it up during the case will cause any further harm.

For now, Google must remove all copies of the film within 24 hours and take reasonable measures to prevent it from being re-uploaded. The case, meanwhile, has been passed back to a lower court, with instructions to issue a similar temporary ban.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Two hours ago Not just you

E
Twitter
Emma RothTwo hours ago
Rihanna’s headlining the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

Apple Music’s set to sponsor the Halftime Show next February, and it’s starting out strong with a performance from Rihanna. I honestly can’t remember which company sponsored the Halftime Show before Pepsi, so it’ll be nice to see how Apple handles the show for Super Bowl LVII.


E
Twitter
Emma RothTwo hours ago
Starlink is growing.

The Elon Musk-owned satellite internet service, which covers all seven continents including Antarctica, has now made over 1 million user terminals. Musk has big plans for the service, which he hopes to expand to cruise ships, planes, and even school buses.

Musk recently said he’ll sidestep sanctions to activate the service in Iran, where the government put restrictions on communications due to mass protests. He followed through on his promise to bring Starlink to Ukraine at the start of Russia’s invasion, so we’ll have to wait and see if he manages to bring the service to Iran as well.


E
External Link
Emma Roth5:52 PM UTC
We might not get another Apple event this year.

While Apple was initially expected to hold an event to launch its rumored M2-equipped Macs and iPads in October, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman predicts Apple will announce its new devices in a series of press releases, website updates, and media briefings instead.

I know that it probably takes a lot of work to put these polished events together, but if Apple does pass on it this year, I will kind of miss vibing to the livestream’s music and seeing all the new products get presented.


E
External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.


Welcome to the new Verge

Revolutionizing the media with blog posts

Nilay PatelSep 13
A
Youtube
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.


A
The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.


T
Twitter
Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.