Earlier this year, Google was ordered to pull down the Innocence of Muslims video the Obama administration blamed for the attacks in Benghazi in 2012. The reason had to do with a lawsuit filed by one of the actresses in the video – Cindy Lee Garcia. According to Garcia, she was duped into participating in the video production. Her contention is that the name of the original production was ‘Desert Warrior’ and that it had nothing to do with Islam.
As of this writing, the video is still not available on YouTube. However, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to re-hear the case.
The National Journal reports:
A federal Appeals Court on Wednesday agreed to reconsider its decision to order Google to take down an anti-Islam propaganda film that was linked to the 2012 Benghazi attack.
Earlier this year, a three-judge panel sided with Cindy Lee Garcia, who sued Google for infringing on her copyright by hosting the video—titled Innocence of Muslims—on YouTube. The actress argued that she was fooled into appearing in the video after following up on an ad posting purporting to be for another movie. The video was taken down following the decision.
Now, the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit will review that decision, and the three-judge panel’s ruling will not hold precedent in the full Court’s review. Garcia originally had her case dismissed by a trial judge.
The case presents a thicket of thorny issues, including a debate over the balance between copyright protections and free speech in the Internet age. Open-Internet activists and several tech companies argued that the February ruling facilitates overly burdensome copyright limits. Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, eBay, and Netflix have all supported Google’s position.
“This is very welcome decision,” said Corynne McSherry, intellectual-property director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “The court’s ruling was mistaken as a matter of law and a terrible precedent for online free speech. What happened to Cindy Garcia was truly shameful, but the 9th Circuit took a bad situation and made it worse.”
And the tensions over the case are ratcheted up by the video’s controversial nature—as well as its connection to the September 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
Perhaps the best chance of this case making it to the Supreme Court would be a ruling that reaffirms that of the three-judge panel; Google has plenty of money to appeal. Of course, if the full Court rules that the video should be put back up, it will be interesting to see the reaction of the Muslim world and if the Supreme Court will hear the case if it’s pursued further by Garcia.
The “Istanbul Process” that involves an international effort on the part of the Muslim community to criminalize any speech critical of Islam very well could be a factor.