Court rejects ‘Muslims’ takedown request

Judge cites copyright issues in denying thesp's injunction effort

A federal court has rejected a thesp’s effort to compel YouTube to take down “Innocence of Muslims,” the film that sparked protests in the Middle East.

Actress Cindy Lee Garcia sought a preliminary injunction, after arguing that she was misled by the maker of the film regarding the nature of the project. She argued that the deception, as well as the dubbing of her voice, violated her copyright.

But U.S. District Judge Michael Fitzgerald said that “even assuming both that Garcia’s individual performance in the film is copyrightable and that she has not released this copyright interest, the nature of this copyright interest is not clear. Nor is it clear that defendants would be liable for infringement.”

Noting that the movie was posted on July 2, 2012, Fitzgerald also wrote that Garcia failed to demonstrate that removal would “prevent any alleged harm,” a finding necessary for issuing such an injunction.

Garcia’s lead counsel, Cris Armenta, said it was unclear if there would be an appeal.

“Aside from this film turning her life upside down and being subjected to frightening death threats and threats of harm, she does not have the financial resources to continue to wage battle against Internet giants.”

The maker of the film, Mark Basseley Youssef, currently serving a prison sentence for violating probation on a prior bank-fraud case, provided a declaration to attorneys at Google (parent company of YouTube) that was submitted to the court on Wednesday. It included a release form bearing what they said was Garcia’s signature.

Armenta then submitted a declaration from a forensic document examiner who determined that Garcia’s signatures on the release forms were forged.