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YouTube Will Not Have to Remove Anti-Muslim Video
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The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a controversial anti-Muslim video may be viewed on YouTube’s website, due to the protections of the First Amendment.

Garcia (right)

Summary: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a controversial anti-Muslim video may be viewed on YouTube’s website, due to the protections of the First Amendment.

According to Mercury News, a federal appeals court has ruled that requiring Google-owned YouTube, a video sharing website, to take down an anti-Muslim video would violate the right to free speech.


The video caused protests around the world, and a Hollywood actress, Cindy Lee Garcia, sought to have it taken down.

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In its ruling, an 11-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Garcia’s arguments. Garcia had received many death threats after a clip of the actress was spliced into a 2012 video clip that portrayed her as disparaging the prophet Mohammed in the video, titled the “Innocence of Muslims.” The court supported Google and other Internet companies in its ruling. Only one judge, Judge Alex Kozinki, dissented.

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In the majority opinion, Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote, “In this case, a heartfelt plea for personal protection is juxtaposed with the limits of copyright law and fundamental principles of free speech. The appeal teaches a simple lesson–a weak copyright claim cannot justify censorship in the guise of authorship.”

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Last year, a three-judge panel, also from the 9th Circuit, supported Garcia’s position. Garcia’s arguments, that she was tricked into a performance that resulted in death threats, were based on violations of federal copyright laws. That court required the film to be removed from YouTube.

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However, the current ruling, announced on Monday, found that the previous order violated the First Amendment.

The previous ruling that ordered the removal of the video caused widespread disapproval from the legal world, media organizations, and online groups. These groups warned of the consequences for Internet content providers if the order was allowed to stand. They argued that any actor in a film could “wave around the threat of an injunction to shut down distribution.”

Major internet companies such as Twitter, Netflix, and Facebook argued that the ruling created unprecedented protections for actors who even have minor roles in every film that is produced, while allowing the courts to force companies like YouTube to take down videos that are protected by the First Amendment and increasing their duty to police Internet content.

Companies such as Adobe and Pinterest cautioned that the ruling would place significant burdens on online providers, arguing that “it tramples upon both fundamental copyright principles and related First Amendment interests.”

According to Garcia’s attorney, the case was simply about clearing her name and protecting her well being, not attacking the Internet as a whole.

Garcia was paid $500 for a small role in a film titled “Desert Warrior.” Garcia, according to the Wall Street Journal, was under the impression that she was making a movie about life for Egyptians some 2,000 years ago. That movie never materialized, but Garcia’s clip was used in “Innocence of Muslims,” which was produced by Mark Basseley Youssef. When it was posted online, Muslim communities were outraged, and one source cited the film in a debate over the violent attacks on the United States embassy in Libya.

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Garcia’s voice was recorded over with an insult to Mohammed, and since viewers saw the edited clip, she has received death threats, forcing her to live underground.

Garcia did have some supporters, however. A recent legal brief from Hollywood’s Screen Actor’s Guild asked the court to rule that actors may own copyrights to performances within movies. According to NBC News, even President Barack Obama asked Google to take the video down.

Source: Mercury News

Photo credit: Wall Street Journal


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