×

Netflix, Facebook, Twitter Voice Support for Google in ‘Innocence of Muslims’ Case

Netflix, Facebook and Twitter are among the companies siding with Google as it defends itself against an actress’ effort to force YouTube to remove the inflammatory “Innocence of Muslims” video that sparked protests in the Muslim world.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has scheduled an en banc hearing on Dec. 15 in actress Cindy Lee Garcia’s lawsuit to obtain an injunction against YouTube. She claimed that she had a copyright interest in her performance, even though she had only a minor role in the movie, and that YouTube didn’t have her permission to have it posted on their site.

Garcia said that she received death threats as the video sparked protests. She said that she was told that she was performing in a movie called “Desert Warrior,” yet the movie’s writer and producer, Mark Basseley Youssef, instead turned it into “Innocence of Muslims,” with her voice dubbed over so that she appeared to be asking, “Is your Mohammed a child molester?”

But in an amicus brief filed earlier this week, Netflix warned that, were the court to accept Garcia’s legal rationale, “licensed distributors such as Netflix face the threat of costly suits seeking injunctions preventing those legitimate distributors from exhibiting films and television shows to millions of consumers.”

Netflix argues that Garcia’s rationale turns the concept of joint authorship on its head. A joint author has no power to prevent the other author from licensing their work, but is entitled only to an accounting of his or her share of the proceeds.

“Under Ms. Garcia’s unfixed, non-joint author view of copyright, however, any actress or background singer or spear carrier is granted veto power over the use of copyrighted works — including, as sought in this case, outright injunctions against their performance, distribution or reproduction — far beyond the rights afforded either a coauthor of a joint work,” Netflix’s attorneys, Michael H. Page and Joseph Gratz, wrote. “It is a view of copyright law under which Keith Richard cannot enjoin Mick Jagger’s use of ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ in a car commercial, but any member of the boys’ choir in the background can.”

Facebook, Gawker Media, Twitter, Tumblr and Yahoo were among the other companies who signed on to briefs siding with Google. Film Independent, the Intl. Documentary Assn., Fredrik Gertten and Morgan Spurlock also lent their names to an amicus brief, noting that Garcia “was seriously harmed by a filmmaker who recklessly ignored her safety. But, in response, she urges this court to create unprecedented standards detrimental for the rest of us.”

In a 2-1 ruling, a panel of the 9th Circuit sided with Garcia, with the majority disturbed by the idea that Garcia had no control over how her performance was being used. But earlier this month, the 9th Circuit agreed to rehear the case in an en banc hearing.

Public Citizen filed an amicus brief siding with neither Google nor Garcia. They argued that Garcia should pursue claims in state court against the filmmakers rather than federal copyright claims.

More Biz

  • Bert Salke and Jennifer Salke

    Feds Looked Into Amazon Studios Chief Jennifer Salke in College Admissions Scandal

    Federal investigators looked into Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke and her husband, Fox 21 Television Studios president Bert Salke, as they conducted a sprawling probe of cheating in elite college admissions, a source close to the case told Variety. It does not appear, however, that prosecutors will charge the Salkes in the case. The Salkes [...]

  • Variety Cord Cutting Placeholder Cable

    Big Blackout Looms as CBS, AT&T Go Down to Wire on Renewal Talks

    A blackout affecting CBS stations in major markets throughout the country looms as CBS and AT&T executives go down to the wire on negotiations for a retransmission consent deal covering 28 O&O stations. The sides have sparred publicly during the past few days as 11 p.m. PT Friday expiration of the previous contract approached. AT&T [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    ICM Responds to WGA Packaging Lawsuit: Claims are 'Baseless' and 'Absurd'

    ICM Partners has asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit filed against four major talent agencies by the Writers Guild of America as part of the larger war between agencies and the guild over packaging fees on TV series and movies. The guild sued ICM, CAA, WME and UTA in California state court in April, [...]

  • New York City NYC Placeholder

    CityFM Podcast Takes a Deep Look at New York’s Music Scene (Listen)

    First among the many projects listed at the beginning of New York Music Month in June was a WNYE radio show and podcast called CityFM that promised to “explore the city’s music culture, emerging artists and trends, and upcoming events told through the lens of what’s happening around the city in Summer 2019.” And while [...]

  • Live Nation Logo. (PRNewsFoto/Live Nation)

    Live Nation Confirms Placing Tickets Directly on Secondary Market at Artists’ Request

    Representatives for Live Nation, the world’s largest live-entertainment company and owner of Ticketmaster, confirmed that it bypassed conventional channels and directly placed thousands of concert tickets on the secondary market upon artists’ request, in an article published in Billboard. In a statement shared with Variety, the company acknowledged that it has facilitated the transfer of [...]

  • Costume designer Michele Clapton

    Costume Designers Fashion a Plan to Fight for Pay Parity in Upcoming Contract Talks

    The Costume Designers Guild Local 892 is gearing up to fight for pay equity in its 2021 contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, establishing a pay-equity committee to raise awareness of the scale disparity between the mostly female CDG membership and the mostly male membership of the Art Directors Guild Local [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content