Garcia vs. Google Back in Court to Decide Fate of ‘Innocence of Muslims’

The case brought against Google by actress Cindy Lee Garcia – who should be familiar to readers – is set to again go before the most liberal court in the land, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court in just three days. This time, however, it’s going before the full court. Earlier this year, it was a three-judge panel that ruled against Google, which was ordered to take down the Innocence of Muslims video the Obama administration blamed for the attacks in Benghazi.

This is a case that is getting very little media attention, despite the high volume of Amicus Briefs and the high profile of the entities that filed them, most recently the Screen Actors Guild, which is supporting Garcia. Most of the big names, however, are supporting Google.

Garcia maintains that she was duped into appearing in the video and that she had no knowledge that her voice would later be dubbed over with anti-Islamic comments. She further insists that there had been no indication that the video would involve Islam at all. The question in front of the court is relatively simple but with a complicated answer. Since she was duped and would not have appeared in the video if these things were known, does she have a right to demand that Google not be permitted keep the video on YouTube?

Court rulings are very rarely clear cut or black and white but assuming there is no settlement and that one side will win and the other will lose, how will it turn out and how will it be exploited by the ideologues?

If Garcia wins, the video stays off of YouTube. Those who support the “Istanbul Process” and the criminalizing of all speech critical of Islam could see it as a victory. After the video made news, a Fatwa was put on Garcia. That could conceivably chill the speech of others in the future. The other message such a ruling could send is that Muslim protesters and rioters in the Middle East can get some of the results they seek.

If Garcia loses, the video goes back up on YouTube. Say what you will about whether the video played a role in the Benghazi attacks, it was intentionally exploited and used to gin up Muslim protests and riots outside U.S. Embassies and installations all around the globe, as reported. Where people get hung up over the issue of the Benghazi attacks is whether or not there was a demonstration; that’s a red herring. The real issue involves whether the video was in any way used as an excuse or otherwise exploited to launch attacks in Benghazi.

Nonetheless, if the Court rules that the video goes back up, will their be agitators that will exploit that ruling and use it to call for more protests?

When it comes to this case, to the degree that it’s discussed, conservatives tend to come down on the side of the filmmaker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and against Garcia because they see the actress as calling for action against the first amendment.

What no one seems to be much interested in doing is focusing on the background of Nakoula and what his motivations were. Upon doing so, Garcia’s opponents might start becoming her supporters.

In any event, here is a report on the upcoming case:

In an appeal being heard by 11 federal judges in Pasadena on December 15, Google says a court order that forced it to take down a notorious anti-Islam film trailer from its YouTube unit last February violated fundamental free speech, free Internet, and copyright principles.

The search giant’s arguments are being supported by dozens of amici curiae—interested outside parties—who are also up in arms over the precedent. These include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (who say ruling violates protections afforded Internet publishers by the Digital Millenium Copyright Act); The New York Times Co, NPR, Public Citizen, and Techdirt publisher Floor64 (claiming it violates the First Amendment and the Communications Decency Act); Netflix and a bevy of documentary filmmakers, including Morgan (Super-Size Me) Spurlock (upset about its copyright holdings, which would “wreak havoc” with their business models); and a couple dozen legal scholars (incensed about all of the above).

Of course, none of the folks attacking the ruling has a fatwa on his head. Cindy Lee Garcia, the actress who brought the suit, does. She’s got amicus support from the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and several other actors and musicians guilds.

The case is proof positive of the hoariest of old lawyers’ saws: Hard cases make bad law. Garcia v. Google is a classic of the genre.

Garcia says she was tricked into appearing in the infamous movie now known as The Innocence of Muslims, which depicts the Prophet Mohammed in the vilest of terms. When a 14-minute trailer of it was released on YouTube in Arabic translation on September 11, 2012, it triggered deadly protests in Cairo and other Muslim cities throughout the world.

It may or may not also have caused demonstrations in Benghazi, Libya, which preceded an attack on the U.S. consulate there in which four died, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. The video’s perceived connection to that event—accurate or not—helped generate about 40 million clicks for the YouTube video, with many viewers doubtless assuming that Garcia was a willing participant in the incendiary, and, to many, blasphemous, propaganda reel.

Those still inclined to defend Nakoula and oppose Garcia should consider one very important charge. That charge – made by Garcia – is that Nakoula deceived and defrauded her.

If that’s true, shouldn’t conservatives side with Garcia and oppose Nakoula?


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