US appeals court permits YouTube to display anti-Muslim video with changes

The Google unit was earlier asked to take down the controversial movie trailer

By , IDG News Service |  Legal, Google, YouTube

Google has been allowed by a court to keep a controversial film trailer that mocks the Prophet Muhammad on YouTube, but the video has to be scrubbed to remove the performance of actress Cindy Lee Garcia, who claims infringement of her copyright.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld its earlier order, asking Google to take down and prevent new uploads of the trailer, but did not preclude the posting or display of any version of 'Innocence of Muslims' that does not include Garcia's performance.

The court had earlier ruled that YouTube should take down the controversial video which sparked off protests in a number of countries in 2012. Garcia had argued that the video would cause her irreparable harm if there wasn't an injunction on it, as she was subject to death threats.

Google last week asked the court to allow it to retain the trailer online until the disposition of its upcoming petition for a full-court rehearing of the earlier decision.

The company had said in its filing that it has complied with the court's order to take down the trailer, "but in light of the intense public interest in and debate surrounding the video, the video should remain accessible while Google seeks further review."

Google, YouTube, and the public would suffer irreparable harm to their First Amendment and other constitutional freedoms if the company was not immediately granted a stay on the order, it said in the filing.

"Protected speech on a matter of broad public interest is undoubtedly being gagged, because the panel has suppressed the entire trailer, even though Garcia only claims to hold a copyright in the five seconds where she appeared," it said.

Google did not immediately comment on the court ruling. "The Ninth Circuit's decision confirms what we have been arguing all along: that this matter is not a First Amendment issue, it is a copyright case," Garcia's attorneys said in a statement. "We are gratified that the Ninth Circuit has rejected two separate requests by Google seeking carte blanche to continue violating our client's copyright by exhibiting a distorted, mutilated version of her performance to the world."

The appeal is the latest in a long-standing bid by Garcia to get Google to take down the YouTube video which she said included a performance by her for another movie that wasn't released, and was dubbed over to include offensive remarks about the Prophet.

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