Last Updated:November 26 @ 07:46 am

Judge says anti-Muslim clip can stay on YouTube

By Greg Risling

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A 14-minute film trailer blamed for protest violence in the Middle East will remain on YouTube, after an actress lost her legal challenge to take it down.

Cindy Lee Garcia, who appeared in "Innocence of Muslims," asked a judge to order the video removed in a Los Angeles County court Thursday.

But Superior Court Judge Luis Lavin rejected Garcia's request because she wasn't able to produce any agreement she had with the makers of "Innocence of Muslims" and the man behind the film hadn't been served with a copy of her lawsuit.

Garcia's attorney, Cris Armenta, told reporters that her client plans to return to court in three weeks with more evidence to bolster her case.

The video posted to YouTube has been linked to protests that continue to rage across the Middle East. The White House has asked YouTube to take it down and the company has refused, saying it doesn't violate its content standards.

While Thursday's legal ruling might further antagonize protesters, the lawsuit had little chance of succeeding because of a federal law that protects third parties from liability for content they handle, legal experts said.

"From the beginning this was a Hail Mary pass," said Jeremiah Reynolds, a Los Angeles attorney who specializes in intellectual property and First Amendment cases. "I think they hoped the judge would have enough sympathy for this woman to have him take the video down."

Garcia is suing for fraud and slander against Internet search giant Google, which owns YouTube, and Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the man behind the video who has gone into hiding since it gained attention.

The 14-minute trailer depicts Muhammad as a womanizer, religious fraud and child molester.

Garcia claimed she was duped by Nakoula and that the script she saw referenced neither Muslims nor Muhammad. She also said her voice had been dubbed over after filming.

Her lawsuit mirrors similar claims made by those who said they were fooled by actor Sacha Baron Cohen during the making of "Borat" and "Bruno." The British comedian was unsuccessfully sued by some non-actors who appeared in his movie who weren't familiar with his outlandish characters.

"Although this is a much more serious situation, the (legal) analysis should be the same," Reynolds said. "It's an act that is protected by the First Amendment."

Cindy Cohen, the legal director for San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, said Garcia does have a claim against the filmmaker but not against Google.

"The law protects Google here because they aren't the producers of the film," Cohen said. "You don't want a situation where the host is responsible for the content. Then nobody would ever be a host."

Garcia's lawsuit contends that keeping the film online violates her right of publicity, invades her privacy rights and that post-filming dialogue changes cast her in a false light.

"I think we need to take it (the film) off because it will continue to cause more problems," she said. "I think it's demoralizing, degrading."

Garcia said she has been threatened at least eight times and has called the FBI but she hasn't heard back from federal agents.

Armenta argued in court that her client was used a puppet to make the film, and she was clearly defrauded and lied to by the people behind the movie.

"She did not sign on to be a bigot," Armenta said.

Timothy Alger, the lawyer representing Google at Thursday's hearing, said the company shouldn't be responsible for what transpired between Garcia and the filmmakers. He said no matter how someone views the content "it is something of widespread debate."

YouTube has blocked users in Saudi Arabia, Libya and Egypt from viewing the clip, as well asIndonesia and India, because it violates laws in those countries.

Garcia could seek to have a judge grant an injunction against Nakoula to order him to remove the video, but it wouldn't accomplish what Garcia set out to do.

"It would have little to no effect because other websites are showing the film," Reynolds said. "It would be a moot point."

___

AP Entertainment Writer Anthony McCartney contributed to this story.

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12 Comments

  1. cxComment by genesal
    September 21, 2012 @ 8:44 am

    Opponents are Firstamendmentaphobics and shame on them.

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    Rating: 4.9/5 (17 votes cast)
  2. AMVoterComment by AMVoter
    September 21, 2012 @ 9:37 am

    The judge obviously went against our hammer and sickle president to uphold our Constitutional right to free speech. And to think that Hillary and the hammer and sickle president spent $70,000 of our tax dollars for an apology ad in Pakistan.

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  3. noveldogComment by noveldog
    September 21, 2012 @ 10:09 am

    How about that? A judge that is not afraid of BHO and Hillary? Wow! We need more judges like that!

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  4. rosecoatsComment by rosecoats
    September 21, 2012 @ 10:22 am

    She needs to sue the film-maker if she believes she was somehow manipulated or deceived. Otherwise, she has no basis for her action.

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  5. Grouchy OneComment by Grouchy One
    September 21, 2012 @ 10:58 am

    The only thing that really bothers me about people removing things from FB or You Tube or any other public forum is that I believe the people IN the videos, unless they signed a statement saying it is OK to post their pictures and/or statements should have the say about whether or not it’s taken down.

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  6. elderalComment by elderal
    September 21, 2012 @ 11:13 am

    The whole issue is pathetic. Terrorists plot an attack. The media covers for them by telling (later retracting) a story about Moslems being upset about the movie clip.
    In the last few years, there have been claims by ignorant people that Jesus and His diciples were gay. More recently some have claimed He was married. Did I miss the resulting riots? There are a wide variety of people (even some of my own religious denomination) who have said and done things with which I very much disagree but I have the emotional maturity to avoid killing those people &/or burning their homes. Why is it that Moslems have the exclusive “right” to over-react every time someone says something uncomplimentary about their prophet or their beliefs? I say “Grow up. Then after you have then we can discuss our differences like adults.”

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  7. James AgansComment by James Agans
    September 21, 2012 @ 12:56 pm

    I would suggest that people read “The Straight Path” by John Esposito. Good read. Good insight.

    Peace, JA

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  8. wdjincComment by wdjinc
    September 21, 2012 @ 1:43 pm

    1st Amendment grants us free speech with exceptions. You cannot yell fire in a crowded theater when there is no fire. This video is worse than yelling fire as it has caused many deaths and destruction to Americans. The film should be banned. Even advertisements that are considered too risque are banned from many media outlets.

    We already know how the Muslims react to defamation’s of their Prophet and their Koran, so we need to condemn those type of actions and ban their showing. It is a commonsense thing to do.

    Meanwhile we should not have our president continue to apologize to these murderers and terrorists. It’s a sign of weakness which further perpetuates the violence as these countries have nothing to fear from us. Obama should have sent in the marines to protect further bloodshed and destruction to our embassies or else shut them down and stop sending these countries foreign aid money.

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    • ClinicalThinkerComment by ClinicalThinker
      September 22, 2012 @ 5:14 pm

      No it is not worse or even close to worse.

      The Muslims know we are a NATION that values free speech.

      Unfortunate if they do not like that.

      You do not reward bad behavior you punish it.

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  9. AMVoterComment by AMVoter
    September 21, 2012 @ 2:09 pm

    Wdjinc, No, the film should NOT be banned. You probably haven’t even watched the video but instead seek to placate a bunch of stone-age barbarians just like the weak appeaser in the white house. The film was not responsible for the deaths in Libya and if you did a little research instead of just listening to the leftist obama media you would know that. Face it, they will use any excuse to riot and burn because Islam is against western culture and seeks to destroy it. You want to tiptoe around the muslim and not upset their ridiculous sensibilities but what about what obama is doing to Catholics in America?

    We still have free speech in America and regardless how distasteful the video may or may not be the film maker has a right to make it. Are you one of those who think it is just fine to stick a cross in a bottle of urine or spread feces on the Virgin Mary? You think that doesn’t anger Americans? Yet it falls under free speech, just like the video.

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  10. 3gopaul6Comment by 3gopaul6
    September 21, 2012 @ 8:37 pm

    Thank God for the wisdom of this judge. I have seen this awful, stupid, poorly made film, and it played to me like a Saturday Night Live/Second City, less the quality and talent. The notion that anyone, let alone the entire Muslim nation could take this film seriously is ridiculous.
    I have seen many things on TV and You Tube, and read many things on the web and in newspapers, that were way more offensive than this toward Christians and Christianity. But I would not want any of those big mouths or anti-Christian bigots to be silenced, because they are entitled to their opinion, and the freedom to express it out loud, as long as they are not forcing it on me, or telling me that I have to agree with it (as many other groups are doing these days).

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  11. Mort_fComment by Mort_f
    September 23, 2012 @ 2:13 pm

    Hopefully someone will bring a libel suit, proving that Mohammed was NOT a womanizer, child molester, or genocidal murdere. Now that might prove to be an interesting trial, especially since it would require denial of the Quran, and the history of Islam.

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