In a major blow to our freedom of speech, a California appeals court ruled against Google on Wednesday. According to the court, YouTube must remove all copies of the controversial anti-Islamic project “Innocence of Muslims.”
The removal was granted after an actress in the film claims that she was being subjected to global death threats.
The California appeals court issued a 2-1 ruling, demanding that Google remove all copies of the film, while taking “reasonable steps to prevent further uploads.”
The “Innocence of Muslims” video was uploaded in 2012 and was immediately met with criticism and death threats by Islamic extremists. At one point an Egyptian cleric’s fatwa called for the death of everyone involved in the film.
According to actress Cindy Lee Garcia, she was tricked into appearing in the film with mixed words. At one point the Arabic version of the film asks “Is your Mohammed a child molester?” Garcia attempted to claim a copyright for the film, however, Google refused to honor that claim. In 2012 a Federal court sided with Google, allowing the video to remain in circulation.
In the majority ruling Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, states that Garcia’s role was not a work for hire. The ruling further states that Garcia had given the producer an implied license to use herperformance, but that his subsequent conduct went beyond the terms of the license.
The dissenting judge in the case claims that no similar findings have been reported and “these facts may constitute a prior restraint of speech under the First Amendment.”
Google has not immediately responded to the appeal court’s decision.