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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."
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."

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.

That being said, though, if I were Nakoula I'd be very afraid.

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Comment Preferences

  •  good. there must be a way to sanction (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    these liars who hide behind the first amendment and are now responsible for the death of four good citizens.  

    Shame on Them!  I hope that she wins and wins big.

    It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything. ~~Joseph Stalin

    by SeaTurtle on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 02:03:28 PM PDT

    •  That doesn't fly. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lujane, erush1345, Paul Rogers, VClib

      A mob in Libya is responsible for those people's deaths.

    •  blasphemy must be punished! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      erush1345, Paul Rogers

      clearly, offending religious people and blasphming can't stand.

      •  Most of us aren't calling for blasphemy laws (4+ / 0-)

        What we are calling for is for Nakoula to have to answer for defrauding the actors and putting them in danger.

        Romney-Ryan: America's Rollback Team

        by Christian Dem in NC on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 02:35:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  problem is that there does not seem to be (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Shippo1776, VClib

          a theory in civil law which would work.  The actress herself is not defamed and the filmmaker was not directly responsible for the translation and even if he is, it seems the actress would have to prove damage and financial loss to succeed, assuming the filmmaker has any assets that are not protected.

          The chances of reaching the backers of this film with a civil suit is not likely

          •  It seems hard to believe, though (2+ / 0-)

            that a producer can deceive his cast and crew in this way and do so with impunity.

            Romney-Ryan: America's Rollback Team

            by Christian Dem in NC on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 03:23:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  if a film is shot as this one was (0+ / 0-)

              and if an actor is OK with not having a complete script, it is easy to see how such a thing could happen

              •  But even major film scripts are rarely "complete." (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Paul Rogers

                Not in the sense you seem to mean, entlord.

                Frequent, multiple-page rewrites are the rule, not the exception. Every "finished" shooting script I've ever seen starts out with white pages and ends up with every color in the 20-lb paper spectrum, each color indicating a revision.  Scenes are added, dropped. Characters added, dropped. Movie titles change all the time.

                Even once the film is in the can, a movie can be reshaped in the editing suite.

                And that's with big-budget, mainstream stuff.

                Low-budget films often develop in an even more chaotic or piecemeal way.

                I'm not really sure of everything you mean by "shot as this one was," entlord, but so far I haven't read anything about the casting or shooting of this film that doesn't sound like any number of film school or indie film projects I've worked on.

                •  perhaps but even with the expected rewrites (0+ / 0-)

                  and with the amount of film that used to end up on the cutting room floor, what I have seen of interviews with actors the 13 minute trailer (because no one has seen a feature length product) would make the old Dark Shadows TV show seem to have been scripted in stone from the get-go and that show was legendary for its on the fly changes and plot alterations  

                  •  And what should the actors have foreseen? (0+ / 0-)

                    Chaotic doesn't necessarily mean anything more than chaotic. Art is messy, and most people go into a production hoping it will be art.

                    Experienced actors and crews are so used to rolling with the vagaries of bad directors, conflicts between producers, and so on. Beginners are even more cooperative, because they're so hopeful and/or desperate to work.

                    Not quite OT, let me recommend a quick read--Kirk Douglas' memoir I AM SPARTACUS. Note the conflicts, the controversies, the staff changes, the on-the-set rewrites and improvs, the subterfuges (including the identity of the screenwriter, which was concealed from almost everybody who worked on the film). The resulting film is a beloved classic. But to the folks working on it, it must have felt like a monstrous gamble.

            •  This is what freedom looks like. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Shippo1776, VClib

              One way this could be addressed is to be effectively ostracised from the movie creating community.

              This appears to be a matter for the court of public opinion, not a court of law.

            •  CDinNC - the actors actual agreement (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Cassandra Waites

              will be key here regarding any liability for the producer. Was the agreement an exhibit in the lawsuit?

              I think it was a huge mistake to name Google and YouTube in the complaint because now both Google and YouTube will answer it giving the producer much more legal muscle than if he was the sole defendant. The producer has no real assets and the investors, Google and YouTube are all shielded from liability. There is no deep pocket here and you can squeeze blood out of a turnip.

              "let's talk about that"

              by VClib on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 08:09:53 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Blasphemy must be punished and punished severely (0+ / 0-)

        Who has spoken ill of the GOP here?

    •  Do you have a theory of how a filmmaker (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Paul Rogers

      is liable for reactions to his work?  For avant garde filmmakers, such a ruling would have a very dampening effect

      •  for legitimate avante garde filmmakers who do not (0+ / 0-)

        fraudulently tell people one thing in order to acquire their image, and then misrepresent it in their final work, it should not be a problem. Whoever allowed words to be attributed to her that were not what she said should be held liable and accountable.

        "Had we gone the invasion route, the US could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land." -- George H. W. Bush, "A World Transformed," 1998 memoir (explaining why the US did not occupy Iraq in the 1991 "Desert Storm" war)

        by nuclear winter solstice on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 04:03:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  which opens a new can of worms (3+ / 0-)

          after all, in any foreign film, how faithful is the translation to the actual text of the original.  That is always a problem for the translator, to try to be faithful to the original vs having the language sound fluent and natural.  Many times the translations can stray quite a bit from the original and this does not include satirical materials where words are literally put into subjects' mouths

          •  Reefer Madness should be protected too! (0+ / 0-)

            The satirical takes on Reefer Madness are an attack on civility, good sir!  We ought to hang those fiends responsible for mocking quality storytelling!

            •  there are satirical takes on Reefer Madness? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Paul Rogers

              Just goes to prove nothing is beyond the reach of satire.  I first saw it in 1974 when the local Dean of Men showed it as a serious admonition to the local potheads of the dangers of weed

              •  The culture has informed me that it is so. (0+ / 0-)

                Enjoying it ironically, people have talked at length about the campy nature of the movie, additionally, there have been several released commentaries mocking it.  (One by someone associated with MST3k, apparently)

                The 2004 colorization of the movie gave the smoke all sorts of wild colors.  Presumably to play off the comical, unreal nature of the movie's message.  (This would be a colorization version of an unfaithful translation.  As I'm not a movie buff, it's also the only case I can think where someone did an unfaithful colorization.  Nobody has tried to colorize Schindler's List yet.)

                Given that it's propaganda, I'm pretty sure the original creators would be pretty pissed off about its reception by audiences and the derivative works their movie led to.

                •  Orson Welles thought colorization was unfaithful (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Paul Rogers

                  to the extent he preferred making black and white movies even after the norm became color.  His main fear was that after his death, his movies would be colorized by, as he termed it, "Ted Turner's damned crayons"

                  •  I didn't know that. Neat! (0+ / 0-)

                    Those early color movies are pretty weird looking too.  Kind of distracting.

                    Plus, it can detract from the quality of the art form as well.  It's kind of a shame that there's not more black and white movies in existence.  When the techniques are used effectively, they can provide an atmosphere and a feeling that would be difficult to replicate in color.

                    •  look up what Welles said on the topic when (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Paul Rogers

                      asked why he did not like Technicolor and his discussion of the use of shadows and odd angles. this was very evident in his unfinished Don Quixote but you can see it in his finished works such as Macbeth

              •  Rifftrax (0+ / 0-)

                Made snarky comments throughout the whole movie.

                "And while it was regarded as pretty good evidence of criminality to be living in a slum, for some reason owning a whole street of them merely got you invited to the very best social occasions."

                by Shippo1776 on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 07:18:01 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  really? (2+ / 0-)

    this reminds me of the old Bloom County strip when Steve Dallas gets his ass kicked by Sean Penn for photographing Penn and Madonna and he decides to sue the camera company because they have the most money.

    She is not worried about being slandered she is looking to cash in by throwing google into the lawsuit.

    I don't feel sorry for her.

    As a nation, the U.S. consumes the most hot dogs per capita. So you'd be wise to never underestimate our powers of denial.

    by jbou on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 02:03:32 PM PDT

    •  thank you for reminding me of that script (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      That is another strip I miss

    •  Death threats for something she herself did not (2+ / 0-)

      agree to say? I think she should sue the man to get back her good name if nothing else.  Unless I find out she knew what was happening and didn't object, I think that she's been used and it's probably criminal which is why she's approaching it this way. For her not to fight back with the law would be to accept and condone the film, so since it's gone around the world now, she deserves some equal time and her day in court.

      Remember when Carol Burnett sued the National Enquirer? She did it because she had the clean record to disprove the lies, whereas other people might not have been drunk either but they couldn't prove it.

      "Had we gone the invasion route, the US could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land." -- George H. W. Bush, "A World Transformed," 1998 memoir (explaining why the US did not occupy Iraq in the 1991 "Desert Storm" war)

      by nuclear winter solstice on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 04:14:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Problem is the filmmaker probably does not (5+ / 0-)

    have very deep pockets and I am unaware of any sort of liability insurance a filmmaker would take out against having his actors threatened.  Even if there were not free speech issues, public and historical figures do not enjoy the same right to privacy as the rest of us so little chance of any of Mohammed's descendents suing successfully.

    unfortunately from the peanut gallery it appears that the actress will have to wait until she suffers actual harm as a direct consequence of the filmmaker's actions and then hoping he has the funds to compensate her.  The maddening aspect here is that the haters who funded the film are probably bullet proof as well metaphorically speaking.
     Even Terry Jones is probably safe from a lawsuit though he admits he was neck deep in disseminating the Arabic language version on Youtube as his few assets are probably camouflaged as church assets

  •  This may be germane to the discussion (0+ / 0-)

    since there are other "hate' films out there

  •  Seems like an odd way to file a lawsuit. (0+ / 0-)

    It seems to me like a better case could be made against the makers' for ruining her career by misrepresenting the intended content of the movie, and thus ruining her reputation.

    I don't know if she (or any of the people involved) will ever have an acting career after this.

    Maybe the Screen Actor's Guild, or some other group could blackball those people involved with deception for this project, so they're never taken seriously again.

    •  none of the actors were union (0+ / 0-)

      "And while it was regarded as pretty good evidence of criminality to be living in a slum, for some reason owning a whole street of them merely got you invited to the very best social occasions."

      by Shippo1776 on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 07:19:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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