Google, Producer Sued by Actress Film Involving Prophet Mohammed

One of the women who acted in the now infamous movie known as “Innocence of Muslims” is suing the producer of the film for copyright infringement. The movie, whose trailer was leaked on YouTube, features a very unflattering portrayal of the prophet Mohammed and precipitated weeks of riots across the Muslim world.

The actress, Cindy Lee Garcia, filed a suit against the producer in a California state court, claiming that she rightfully owns the copyright to her performance in the film and the release of the trailer without her permission represents a breach of that authority.

One problem for Ms. Garcia is that she admits in her court filing that she has yet to be able to locate the contract that stipulates this copyright ownership. She does say that the contract she signed never transferred any rights to her performance to the producer and that her performance did not amount to a “work for hire” situation, as mentioned in copyright law.

Garcia also says that she has applied to register the copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office and has requested an expedited handling of the application. She expressed frustration in her court papers saying that she has been ignored by Google, the owner of YouTube, in each of the five takedown notices sent under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. She says as lawful owners of the copyright for the video, Google should have heeded her request. Google is listed as a co-defendant in the suit.

Garcia claims the producer of the movie dubbed in lines that she would never have said, considering them hate speech, and that the trailer was released without her permission, thus infringing on her rights to the performance. Garcia’s suit asks for monetary damages, all profits that derived from the infringement as well as attorney’s fees. Garcia claims that she suffered damage due to the availability of the trailer which misrepresents her actual performance. As a result of the leaked trailer she claims that an Egyptian cleric has issued a fatwa against her, declaring that all Muslims should kill her and all those connected with the film.

Source: “Apple, National PTA, Nepali Pashmina: Intellectual Property,” by Victoria Slind-Flor, published at Businessweek.com.

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