They haven’t gotten a chance to have the case reheard yet but Google has dodged a financial bullet in the seemingly never ending matter of the anti-Islam film Innocence Of Muslims. Late last night, the 9th Circuit succinctly rejected an emergency motion from actress Cindy Lee Garcia last week seeking more than $127 million in penalties against the tech giant for not complying with a surprising February 26 court order to take down the controversial video. “Appellant’s emergency contempt motion is denied,” ordered a 3-Judge panel on March 31 (read it here) in response to Garcia’s March 25 filing. Google, according to Garcia, is taking its time taking down the inflammatory 2012 14-minute video and even going so far as asking the actress to provide them with “each and every individual URL” that’s still on the tech company’s platform. One of the places the video was still available, according to Garcia, was Egypt – the nation where the actress received an execution threat for her brief appearance in Innocence. Google has long argued that Garcia had no copyright claim on the video, which she appears for 5 seconds, and to take it down is an affront to free speech.
UPDATE, 12:39 PM: Google isn’t taking a court order to take down the 14-minute trailer for Innocence Of Muslims lying down. YouTube‘s parent company filed an emergency motion at the 9thCircuit Court of Appeals late yesterday urging it to stay its order pending a full en banc hearing. Google’s 29-page motion raised First Amendment concerns and alleged that there’d be copyright “chaos” for everyone — especially Hollywood — if minor players in a production can assert a right to control its fate. Service providers including YouTube lack the ability to determine who has a valid copyright claim, the search giant says. “And absent a stay, Google, YouTube, and the public face irreparable harm because the panel’s order will gag their speech and limit access to newsworthy documents—categorically irreparable injuries.” In a case than lasted more than a year and a half, the court sided with actress Cindy Lee Garcia who wanted the trailer for the anti-Islam film taken down. We’ll see what the Ninth Circuit says.
PREVIOUS, WEDNESDAY AM: Actress Cindy Lee Garcia has won a significant victory in her copyright case against Google over her request to have Google-owned YouTube take down the trailer for the controversial anti-Islam film Innocence Of Muslims. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision today (read it here) rejected Google’s assertion that the removal of the film amounted to a prior restraint of speech that violated the U.S. Constitution. The court is ordering YouTube to remove the video, and the video-sharing site could be hit with major penalties.
The release form suddenly provided this week by Innocence Of Muslims filmmaker Mark Basseley Youssef is a “forgery”, lawyers for actress Cindy Lee Garcia said today — and they’ve got an expert who agrees with them. Of course, it might not matter because Judge Michael Fitzgerald today canceled a scheduled December 3rd hearing on whether Garcia’s copyright claims to the film would give her the authority to request that YouTube take down the movie’s 14-minute trailer. The judge, who denied a previous injunction attempt by Garcia, said the actress hasn’t “established a likelihood of success based on the merits” of her case. “If Ms. Garcia is financially able, her legal team intends to file a motion for an immediate appeal before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals,” Garcia’s attorney Cris Armenta said this afternoon, calling the film a “heinous piece of hate speech.”
Jailed Innocence Of Muslims filmmaker Mark Basseley Youssef still wants the world to be able to watch the controversial trailer of the anti-Islam film on YouTube. “Mr. Youssef said he believes in the message contained in the film and he does not want the trailer to be removed from YouTube,” said a filing (read it here) Wednesday by Google’s lawyers. The 14-minute trailer was the cause of violent protests around the Muslim world. Earlier this week, an Egyptian court sentenced Youssef and six others associated with the film to death in absentia. Timothy Alger, the attorney for YouTube owners Google, visited Youssef at LA’s Metropolitan Detention Center on Tuesday to get information from him in relation to actress Cindy Lee Garcia’s legal attempts to have the trailer removed from the Internet. “Mr. Youssef said that while other people assisted with the direction and production of the film, it was his creation, and he retains control over the film. He told me that his son uploaded both the English language and Arabic versions of the trailer for the film, now entitled Innocence Of Muslims, to YouTube at his request,” says Alger in the filing. Youssef, who is in jail for a year on parole violations related to a 2010 bank fraud case, has gone by various aliases including “Nakoula Basseley Nakoula“ and “Sam Bessi.”
A federal judge today denied Cindy Lee Garcia her request for a temporary restraining order against YouTube and Google to take down the anti-Islam film Innocence Of Muslims. “Ex parte applications solely for extraordinary relief are rarely granted,” wrote Judge Michael Fitzgerald. He has set a November 19 court hearing on Garcia’s preliminary injunction request. Citing free speech, YouTube and Google have repeatedly refused to take down the 14-minute Muslims clip, which has caused violent protests against the filmmakers and the U.S. throughout the Muslim world. The short ruling (read it here) today comes a day after Garcia’s lawyer Cris Armenta filed hundreds of pages of documents in support of her client’s request. The federal lawsuit, first filed September 26, also asserts a copyright claim to her performance in the video.
LATEST: Pakistani Islamist Demands Obama Hand Over Filmmakers Of ‘Innocence Of Muslims’; But U.S. Officials Now Claim Pic Didn’t Cause First Attack
From Dominic Patten in Los Angeles & Nancy Tartaglione in Europe:
FRIDAY PM, 39TH UPDATE WRITETHRU: U.S. intelligence officials issued a statement today saying they now believe the 9/11 attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya was a “deliberate and organized terrorist attack” and not sparked by Muslim reaction to the American-made film Innocence Of Muslims. The statement by the office of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper acknowledged that it represented a change in the U.S. intelligence assessment of how and why the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans happened. A spokesman for Clapper’s office says U.S. agencies initially believed the attack had begun spontaneously after protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo over the film that lampoons the Prophet Mohammad. But as more was learned, officials revised their initial assessment to reflect new information that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists. He said it remains unclear if any individual or specific group ordered the attack.
Following President Barack Obama’s address to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, a right-wing Pakistani Islamist told Reuters the president’s statements “have caused a religious war.” In Tuesday remarks, Obama explained why the Innocence Of Muslims video has not been banned in the U.S., citing the Constitutional right to free speech. On Wednesday, Hafiz Saeed, who has been accused by India of masterminding a 2008 attack in Mumbai that killed 166 people, called for the filmmakers to be handed over “to us” if the U.S. can’t take tough action against them, Reuters reports. India has repeatedly called on Pakistan to bring Saeed, who has denied any wrongdoing, to justice and Washington has offered a $10M reward for information leading to his capture.