A U.S. judge on Thursday denied a request to order YouTube to remove the anti-Muslim video that ignited deadly riots around the world.
Attorneys for actress Cindy Lee Garcia, who appears in the video “Innocence of Muslims,” sought the injunction. But a Los Angeles Superior Court judge said Garcia failed to serve a copy of the lawsuit to the movie’s producer, and that she was not able to produce any agreement she had with the creators of the film.
Garcia claims the apparent producer of the video, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, duped her into believing she was appearing in an historical Arabian Desert adventure movie.
Some of the original dialogue appears to have been removed from the YouTube video, with new voice-over insulting and making fun of the Prophet Mohammad.
Garcia is suing Nakoula, as well as Google, which owns YouTube, for fraud and slander, saying the video has destroyed her privacy and reputation, and has caused her to lose her job and receive death threats.
“Emotionally, I am very disturbed,” Garcia said before heading into court. “My whole life has been turned upside down in every aspect. My family has been threatened.”
The case leaves the public and legal experts questioning whether it can ultimately be an indirect avenue that eventually leads to the removal of the controversial video from YouTube.
“Her fraud allegation against the filmmaker is a much stronger case. If she can prove that he misled her and lied to her, and that led to damaging her reputation, she could win that part,” said Los Angeles-based attorney Kenneth H. Lewis.
“However, whether that will lead to the pulling of the clip from YouTube remains to be seen.”
According to Lewis, a punitive damage award seems to be the more likely course of action.
“If she can prove that she lost work and was forced to move because of threats, she could be entitled to punitive damages that could award her a significant amount of money from the filmmaker,” Lewis said.
Both Lewis and University of Texas law Professor David A. Anderson said that naming Google and YouTube in the lawsuit was highly unusual.
“Unless she can prove that YouTube directly violated a copyright, naming them and the owner (Google) is completely ineffectual,” Anderson said. “The case here is really against the filmmaker.”
Anderson and Lewis said there is a possibility that if Garcia wins her case against Nakoula, the court could order the filmmaker to delete the video from YouTube.
However, it remains unclear who actually uploaded the video to YouTube in the first place. The account associated with the trailer is under the name Sam Bacile, the alias that was reportedly given to the media by Nakoula when he was first asked to comment about the film.
Garcia claims her role in the movie, which is only a few seconds long, was “changed grotesquely” to make it appear that she “voluntarily performed in a hateful anti-Islamic production.”
It remains unclear whether Garcia signed a contract with the filmmaker before the film was shot.
“It is possible that she gave the filmmaker contractual rights over any alterations to the film. Dubbing voices is not uncommon in movies,” Anderson said.
The movie, which has received more than 10 million views on YouTube, is being blamed for causing the deadly protests, including the one which led to the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Libya on September 11.