A three-judge appellate court panel in Calif. made the decision after an actress in the film “The Innocence of Muslims,” Cindy Lee Garcia, re-filed a lawsuit over misuse of her image. Garcia maintains she would never have appeared in the film had she known it was an anti-Muslim propaganda film. Now she is allegedly getting death threats over her five seconds of screentime where her character asks the prophet Muhammad — a central figure in the Muslim faith — if he is “a child molester.”
The judges split over the decision, but ultimately two of them ruled that Garcia’s personal copyright was violated by having an overdubbed vocal changing her character’s dialogue to the offending question. Both Obama and Pakistan called for the film trailer to be removed from YouTube after rioting occurred in the Middle East, but Google-owned YouTube boldly stood their ground.
And therein lies the rub: Does a participant have authorship over what a film is about? YouTube seemed to think that removing the film violated a certain First Amendment that grants freedom of speech. But freedom of speech doesn’t cover slander, and ultimately this trailer was found to be detrimental against the actress’ personal freedoms.
Admittedly though, even the judges had a hard time determining the outcome and were fully aware how the ruling could impact what bystanders and extras did about their unsolicited inclusion in YouTube videos going forward. Now, basically, what’s left is for YouTube to appeal the matter to the US Supreme Court and hope that justice — whatever that is determined to be — prevails.
Here are other cases involving copyright: