Actress to sue anti-Islam filmmaker in federal court: lawyer

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 24, 2012 9:38 AM
Actress to sue anti-Islam filmmaker in federal court: lawyer

(Reuters) - An actress suing the producer of an anti-Islam movie that has spawned violent protests across the Muslim world plans to drop her suit and file a new case in federal court over copyright claims, her lawyer said on Monday.

Cindy Lee Garcia, who appeared in the "Innocence of Muslims," filed a lawsuit last week in a state court in Los Angeles against Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the California man thought to be behind the movie, claiming she was duped into playing a role and her life has been put at risk as a result.

Her case also named YouTube and its parent company, Google Inc., as defendants for their role in distributing the short, crudely made film on the Internet. A California state court judge on Thursday rejected her motion for an order for YouTube to pull the film off its site.

"Today we will dismiss the state court lawsuit, but we're going to file again today in federal court," Garcia's lawyer, Cris Armenta, said on NBC's "Today" show.

"My client has a copyright claim," she said. "We intend to enforce it."

Garcia's is the first-known civil lawsuit connected to the video that depicts the Prophet Mohammad as a womanizer and a fool.

Armenta asserted that third-party content distributors hold some responsibility for the content on their platforms.

"I think we should be very clear that Google and YouTube are doing the wrong thing, that they say in their own terms and guidelines that hate speech is not allowed," Armenta said. "How can this not be hate speech? How can this not be wrong, morally intellectually, legally?"

Google previously rejected a request by the White House to reconsider its decision to keep the clips on YouTube, but the company has blocked the trailer in certain Muslim countries such as Egypt and Libya. The White House had asked Google to evaluate whether the video violated YouTube's terms of service.

In her lawsuit, Garcia, of Bakersfield, California, accused a producer of the movie, whom she identified as Nakoula using the alias Sam Bacile, of duping her into appearing in a "hateful" film that she had been led to believe was a simple desert adventure movie.

The film helped generate a torrent of violence across the Muslim world during the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and in the following days.

The violence included an attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi in which the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed. U.S. and other foreign embassies were also stormed by furious Muslims in cities in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

On Friday, 15 people were killed during protests in Pakistan, and over the weekend a Pakistan government minister offered $100,000 to anyone who kills the movie's maker.

For many Muslims, any depiction of the prophet is blasphemous. Caricatures deemed insulting have provoked protests and drawn condemnation from officials, preachers, ordinary Muslims and many Christians.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Writing by Dan Burns, editing by Philip Barbara)