“Innocence Of Muslims” Actress Sues Google, YouTube For Copyright Infringement

By Joseph Mandour on September 27, 2012

mosque Los Angeles – An actress prominently featured in “Innocence of Muslims,” the anti-Muslim video disparaging Muhammad that set off violent protests worldwide, sued Google Inc. and YouTube LLC in Los Angeles federal court Wednesday, alleging copyright infringement in relation to their refusal to take down the video.

Cindy Lee Garcia says she believed she was to appear in a film entitled “Desert Warrior,” which the casting call she attended billed as an adventure set in ancient times. She was unaware of any religious or sexual content, though at one point in the video her character appears to call Muhammad a child molester via overdubbed lines.

YouTube and Google have refused to remove the video from YouTube despite several Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown requests, according to the complaint. By making the video available online, the companies are allegedly infringing Garcia’s protected rights in her performance, which she claims fell within the scope of protection of copyright law the instant her dramatic performance was fixed on film.

The complaint says Garcia “believes” she signed a contract with the video’s producer Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, also known as Sam Bacile and also named as a defendant, but has not been able to obtain a copy of the contract from Nakoula. The contract was not a work for hire agreement, though, and did not call for her to transfer any rights including any copyright interest she might hold in her appearance in the video, she alleges.

Garcia never agreed to place her likeness or image in “Innocence of Muslims” as she was depicted, and would never have agreed to do so in the context of a film promoting hate speech, she says.

“Aside from the fallout that occurred after plaintiff’s performance was distorted and disguised, it is clear that plaintiff has a copyright claim in the dramatic performance she delivered and which was fixed in tangible form when it was filmed during the production of ‘Desert Warrior,’” the complaint says.

“Because she did not assign her rights in her dramatic performance, or her copyright interests, nor was the film a ‘work for hire,’ her copyright interests in her own dramatic performance remain intact,” it says.

Garcia has filed a pending application for a federal copyright registration for the rights to her performance in “Desert Warrior.”

Last week a Los Angeles Superior Court judge shut down another earlier attempt by Garcia to have the video taken off YouTube, saying she was unlikely to prevail on the merits of her case.

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