YouTube should not have been forced to remove a video on the Prophet Muhammad that was to blame for creating riots and unrest in the Middle East, according to a recent decision by a federal appeals court.
On May 18, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Google’s position, which owns YouTube, in overturning a previous court decision that voted to remove the video from the website after an actress in the movie complained of death threats following the release.
Cindy Lee Garcia, who played a small role in the film “Innocence of Muslims,” argued that she had rights to the film and was lied to by producers and directors as to what role she would be playing in the movie and what the movie was about, the Associated Press reported.
On the other side, attorneys for Google said that Garcia did not have any claims to the film because her voice was dubbed over and she did not write any of the script.
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“The appeal teaches a simple lesson – a weak copyright claim cannot justify censorship in the guise of authorship,” the 9th Circuit wrote in their ruling.
The 9th Circuit’s ruling overturns a previous ruling from other members of the panel last year who voted in a 2-1 decision that removing the film would not hinder the free speech rights of Google, Reuters wrote.
Judges ruling on the most recent case said YouTube had every right to continue streaming the video, even though Garcia “was bamboozled when a movie producer transformed her five-second acting performance into part of a blasphemous video proclamation against the prophet Mohammed,” the ruling stated.
Commenting on the previous court decision to ban the film, the judges wrote that the 2-1 decision “censored and suppressed a politically significant film – based upon a dubious and unprecedented theory of copyright. In doing so, the panel deprived the public of the ability to view firsthand, and judge for themselves, a film at the center of an international uproar.”
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According to USA Today, the film depicted Muhammad as a womanizer and homosexual, with the latter being a sin in the Muslim culture.
The movie is also known for coinciding with the deadly attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya in September 2012. President Barack Obama’s National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, initially blamed the release of the film for the violent outbursts, which turned out to be false.
It is unclear if or when the video would be reposted on YouTube, Fox News reports.
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