'Duped' actress sues YouTube, director in US federal court
Parent company Google also named as defendent; purported filmmaker also accused of libel and fraud
An actress who said she was duped into appearing in an anti-Islam film that stoked violent protests across the Muslim world took her legal bid to federal court on Wednesday in a renewed effort to force it off YouTube.
The lawsuit filed by Cindy Lee Garcia (in pic) names the popular online video site YouTube and its parent company Google Inc. as defendants, along with the Egyptian-American Coptic Christian from California believed to be behind the making of the film.
Last week, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge denied Garcia’s request for a temporary restraining order that would have required YouTube to stop posting the crudely made 13-minute video, finding the actress was unlikely to prevail on the merits of her case in state court.
As in her previous lawsuit, Garcia accused the purported filmmaker of fraud, libel and unfair business practices. But her federal lawsuit also asserts a copyright claim to her performance in the video, titled The Innocence of Muslims.
First of many?
Garcia’s case was the first known civil litigation stemming from the video, billed as a film trailer, which depicts the Prophet Mohammad as a fool and a sexual deviant. The clip sparked a torrent of anti-American unrest in Egypt, Libya and dozens of other Muslim countries over the past two weeks.
The outbreak of violence coincided with an attack on US diplomatic facilities in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the US ambassador to Libya.
US and other foreign embassies were also stormed in various cities across the Middle East, Asia and Africa. For many Muslims, any depiction of the prophet is considered blasphemous. Google has refused to remove the film from YouTube, despite pressure from the White House and others to take it down, though the company has blocked the trailer in Egypt, Libya and other Muslim countries.
Garcia’s lawyer had argued in court last week that her client, who is from Bakersfield, California, has suffered harm similar to a person whose privacy is violated by the unauthorised release of a sex tape.
But Google’s attorneys said that the rights of an actor do not protect that person from how a film is perceived.