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First Amendent vs Copywrite Staff Writer

Thursday, June 04, 2015

First Amendent vs Copywrite
Freedom of Speech

On May 18, 2015, the 11-member panel of the 9th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeal upheld YouTube’s right to present an anti-Muslim video that caused riots in the Middle East and death threats to at least 1 actor.

In upholding YouTube’s First Amendment rights, the Court reversed the decision of a 3-member panel of the same Court that forced YouTube to take down the video based on copyright grounds.

Several years ago, an actress named Cindy Lee Garcia was paid $500 to appear in “Desert Warrior,” which she believed to be a nonreligious film. Eventually, her work was used in a 5-second scene within a 15-minute film called “Innocence of Muslims.” In that scene, Garcia’s voice was dubbed over and her character asked whether Muhammad was a child molester.

After the movie was posted on YouTube, riots broke out in the Middle East and Garcia received death threats. Consequently, she sued for an injunction to remove “Innocence of Muslims” from YouTube, claiming a copyright claim to the film. In addition, President Obama and other political leaders asked Google, the parent company of YouTube, to take down the film.

The 3-member panel of 9th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeal sided with Garcia; however, the 11-member panel overturned that decision, stating, “The mandatory injunction censored and suppressed a politically significant film — based upon a dubious and unprecedented theory of copyright. In so doing, the panel deprived the public of the ability to view firsthand, and judge for themselves, a film at the center of an international uproar.”

The 11-member panel sympathized with Garcia but rejected her copyright theory, stating it would cause a legal morass allowing copyright to every “extra” actor in films like “Ben-Hur” and the “Lord of the Rings.” The dissenting opinion claimed the court appeared to be badly misinterpreting copyright law.

Garcia does not plan to appeal due to “financial considerations” and Google has not stated whether the film will reappear on YouTube.

By Kathy Catanzarite

Source: Kathy Catanzarite - Staff Writer

Note from This article is to be used as an educational guide only and should not be interpreted as a legal consultation. Readers of this article are advised to seek an attorney if a legal consultation is needed. Laws may vary by state and are subject to change, thus the accuracy of this information can not be guaranteed. Readers act on this information solely at their own risk. Neither the author,, or any of its affiliates shall have any liability stemming from this article.

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