Not long after it emerged that "Innocence of Muslims" at the very least poured gasoline on the situation that led to attacks on our embassies in Cairo and Benghazi, one of the actresses in the film let it be known she planned to sue. Well, today Cindy Lee Garcia made good on her promise, suing filmmaker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula for deceiving her into working on the film.
In her complaint, Garcia states that she responded to a casting call posted in Backstage for a film titled Desert Warrior. The film was represented to her, she states, as being a historical "Arabian Desert adventure film." Garcia states the prophet Muhammad's name was not mentioned during filming or when she was on set. Garcia says her acting work from Desert Warrior has since been posted on the Internet in the film The Innocence of Muslims and made to appear as if she "voluntarily performed in a hateful anti-Islamic production." Garcia has since received death threats and fears for her safety.Read the full complaint here. Garcia is not only charging that Garcia misled her into taking part in the movie, but that the overdubbing slandered her, violated her right to privacy, and willfully subjected her to emotional distress. She also claims to have received death threats, and has been barred from seeing her grandchildren.
Garcia also named Google and YouTube as defendants. She asked a judge to order YouTube to take the video down, but the judge refused to grant an injunction. Legal experts rightly say that she has little chance of winning damages from Google or YouTube because YouTube is not responsible for the video.
"From the beginning this was a Hail Mary pass," said Jeremiah Reynolds, a Los Angeles attorney who specializes in intellectual property and First Amendment cases. "I think they hoped the judge would have enough sympathy for this woman to have him take the video down."Reynolds likened this situation to people who claimed Sacha Baron Cohen tricked them into taking part in "Borat" and "Bruno." But Garcia doesn't want the video taken down because she doesn't like it--but because it put her in danger. As odious as it is, though, the EFF's Cohen seems to have a point--if a host were to be held responsible for the content, it would be the end of YouTube.
Cindy Cohen, the legal director for San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, said Garcia does have a claim against the filmmaker but not against Google.
"The law protects Google here because they aren't the producers of the film," Cohen said. "You don't want a situation where the host is responsible for the content. Then nobody would ever be a host."
That being said, though, if I were Nakoula I'd be very afraid.