'Innocence Of Muslims' Actress Asks Court To Remove YouTube Clip

by , Jan 22, 2013, 5:56 PM
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The actress who says she was tricked into appearing in "Innocence of Muslims" is urging a federal appeals court to order YouTube to take down a trailer for the anti-Muslim film.

Cindy Lee Garcia says in new legal papers that YouTube and the film producer, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, are infringing her copyright by continuing to display the 14-minute incendiary clip. She argues that she owns a copyright interest in her performance and says she never gave a signed release allowing the producer to display the film.

Last year, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Fitzgerald in the Central District of California rejected Garcia's copyright arguments. He ruled that as an actress, Garcia doesn't currently own a copyright in the finished product. He added that even if Garcia at one time owned an interest in her performance, she implicitly assigned it to the film's author.

Garcia is now asking the 9th Circuit to reverse Fitzgerald's ruling. Garcia contends that she still owns a copyright interest in her performance and that any license she might have granted was for the movie she thought she was making -- an adventure film called "Desert Warrior" -- rather than the incendiary clip that was posted to YouTube.

"Even if Ms. Garcia did convey an 'implied' license ... that license extended only to the performance that she actually gave, which was a benign supporting role in the 'Desert Warrior' adventure film," her legal papers state.

Garcia says that she was duped into making "Innocence of Muslims" after answering a Backpage casting call for an adventure film called "Desert Warrior." She alleges that she never spoke the dialogue that's in the incendiary clip; instead, it was dubbed in after filming.

Garcia says in her legal papers that she received death threats since the film was posted to YouTube, and that she had to move due to security concerns. The trailer, which went live last September, has been blamed for sparking protests in the Mideast.

Some legal scholars have said that Garcia likely has an uphill battle. Santa Clara University law professor Eric Goldman previously told Online Media Daily that he was skeptical of Garcia's claim, given that copyright law applies to works of authorship that are fixed in a medium. In Garcia's case, even if she is considered the author of her performance, she didn't fix it on film.

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