Google lists eight reasons on its YouTube Community Guidelines page for why it might take down a video. Being cited as the cause of riots is not among them. But after the White House warned that a crude anti-Muslim movie trailer had sparked
murderous violence in the Middle East, Google acted.
Access to a 14-minute clip from The Innocence of Muslims was blocked in Egypt, Libya, India, Indonesia and Afghanistan.
Legal experts and civil libertarians, meanwhile, said the controversy highlighted how Internet companies, most based in the United States, have become global arbiters of free speech, weighing complex issues that traditionally are the province of courts,
judges, and occasionally, international treaty.
Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor said:
Notice that Google has more power over this than either the Egyptian or the U.S. government. Most free speech today has nothing to do with governments and everything to do with companies.
The friends of freedom should not make exceptions because freedom's enemies never do. Admittedly, the trailer for Innocence of Muslims (one of its many titles) makes the temptation to allow just one exception close to overwhelming. It advertises an
amateur and adolescent piece of religious propaganda that depicts Muhammad as a violent and lascivious fool. Copts probably made it. As there is no great difference between Christian and Islamist extremists, why not intervene in this clash of
fundamentalisms and stop one sect inciting another sect to violence?
Singapore's government claimed that it was necessary to take a firm stand against the viewing of the Innocence of Muslims film in
Singapore as a matter of principle.
Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean was responding to a question by an MP who wanted to know what are the reasons for the government's pre-emptive measure of requesting Google to block online access in Singapore to the
trailer for the film.
This, especially when Singaporeans of all faiths had responded calmly and there was no disharmony or feelings of ill-will among Singaporeans of different groups.
Teo assured the House that the move was not a censorship of internet content...[BUT]... he explained that the Home Affairs Ministry assessed both the content of the film and its possible impact in determining the request to block the
Teo explained that such decisive actions assure the public that the government will act whenever the line is crossed, and there is no need for affected groups to respond in inappropriate ways.
Teo noted the protests came very close to Singapore, with incidents reported in Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand.
The California man behind the Innocence of Muslims, the movie that wound up violent thugs in the Middle East, was sentenced to death in absentia in
an Egyptian court.
Mark Basseley Youssef was among the seven Egyptian Coptic Christians as was Terry Jones, the Florida-based American pastor associated with burning Korans.
The case was seen as largely symbolic because the defendants, most of whom live in the United States, are all outside Egypt and unlikely to ever serve the sentences.
Egypt's official news agency said the court found the defendants guilty of harming national unity, insulting and publicly attacking Islam and spreading false information, charges that carry the death sentence.
An actress who claimed she was duped into appearing in the anti-Islam film, The Innocence of Muslims , lost her second legal bid to force the video off
Denying a request by actress Cindy Lee Garcia for a court order requiring the popular online video site to remove the 13-minute clip, a federal judge found she was unlikely to prevail on her claims of copyright infringement.
Garcia's lawyer, Cris Armenta, told Reuters she planned to appeal the decision.
The lawsuit claimed copyright on Garcia's performance in the video and accuses Google of infringing on that copyright by distributing the video without her approval via YouTube.
But in his ruling the judge questioned the validity of such a claim. He held that even if she could prove a legitimate copyright interest in her film performance, she effectively relinquished her rights to producers of the film. Fitzgerald also ruled
that Garcia failed to show that she would suffer irreparable harm without an injunction.
Seemingly a little late of the mark, but perhaps just in time for possible renewed flak from the next controversial film, The Innocent Prophet
from the likes of Terry Jones. Anyway UK parliamentarians have called for a ban on the previous controversial film, The Innocence of Muslims
EDM 829: Innocence of Muslims Film
That this House notes the anger of Muslim constituents in response to the online video, The Innocence of Muslims;
is offended by the vile, Islamophobic slurs it makes about a faith followed by over two billion people worldwide;
believes that the film constitutes incitement to hatred on the grounds of race and religion;
further believes that the film itself is of appallingly poor quality;
and urges the Government to make provision for its banning.
A Cairo court has ordered the government to block access to the video-sharing website YouTube for 30 days for carrying an anti-Islam film. Muslims across the world rioted in protest against the film.
Judge Hassouna Tawfiq ordered YouTube blocked for carrying the film, which he described as offensive to Islam.
The ruling, however, can be appealed and, based on precedent, might not be enforced. Similar orders to censor pornographic websites deemed offensive have not been enforced in Egypt because of high costs associated with technical applications but blocking
YouTube might be easier to enforce.
Human rights lawyer Gamal Eid said the decision to ban YouTube stems in large part from a lack of knowledge among judges about how the Internet works:
This verdict shows that judges' understanding of technology is weak. The judges do not realise that one wrong post on a website does not mean you have to block the entire website.
Egypt's telecoms censor says it is not viable for it to follow a court order to block YouTube in the country, and is appealing the ruling.
The order banning YouTube and some other websites for 30 days was issued by a Cairo court after it was brought to its notice that there was a proliferation of links to clips of the controversial Innocence of Muslims video, which is said to portray
the religious character Muhammad in a derogatory manner.
It appears that YouTube's willingness to censor the video in Egypt did not go far enough for the Cairo Administrative Court, said civil rights groups Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The country's Ministry of Information Technology and Communications and the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority decided after a meeting that to block YouTube would technically affect the use of Google search in Egypt with economic
consequences to the country, according to a ministry statement.
The proposed ban on YouTube has also been criticized by the U.S. It's actually not quite clear to us at this moment how and whether that's going to be enforced across Egypt, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said: But as a
general matter, you know that we reject censorship as a response to offensive speech.
Based on a copyright claim that is dubious at best, the Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals has ordered Google to take offline a video that is the center
of public controversy. We can still talk about it, but we can't see what we are talking about. We're hard-pressed to think of a better example of copyright maximalism trumping free speech.
The case was brought by an actress, Cindy Lee Garcia, who was tricked into performing in a short anti-Islamic film (she was told the film was about something very different) and, as a result, found herself subject to death threats. Garcia then
filed a lawsuit against Google and several others, claiming the video infringed her copyright in her performance (approximately 5 seconds of a 13 minute video). Then she asked the court to require Google to take the video down. The district court
wisely refused, noting that Garcia's copyright interest was unclear at best. Garcia appealed, and today the Ninth Circuit agreed with her, and ordered Google to take down all copies of the video and take reasonable steps to prevent further
The merits of this case are indeed doubtful. Very doubtful. Garcia is claiming a copyright interest in her brief performance, a novel theory and one that doesn't work well here. After all, Garcia herself admits she had no creative control over the
movie, but simply performed the lines given to her. There may be a context where an actor could assert some species of authorship, but this doesn't seem to be one of them. Movie makers of all kinds should be worried indeed.
There are other problems with the legal analysis, but the decision is equally if not more troubling for the signal it sends. Based on nothing more than a tenuous (at best) copyright claim, the court has ordered a service provider to censor a video
that has been the subject of considerable debate and comment, with only the most cursory analysis of the speech harms it will cause. If Garcia had brought a claim under virtually any other theory, we expect the court would have taken more care.
Unfortunately, it seems copyright exceptionalism has won the day.
As expected, Google has quickly filed an emergency motion for a stay on the horrific 9th Circuit ruling that the company needed to take down
all copies of the Innocence of Muslims film and block it from being re-uploaded anywhere. Google has made it clear that it will fight this decision, starting with asking the 9th Circuit for an en banc rehearing (ie a case heard by a large panel of
Appeals courts don't often grant requests for en banc hearings and, as such, often don't grant stays (basically holding off enforcing the order). However, with this case generating so much attention (and condemnation), hopefully enough of the
judges in the 9th Circuit agree that it's worth rethinking Judge Kozinski's order.
Google's motion lays out the basic argument, highlighting that the ruling simply invents new law and ignores precedents that the court is bound by. It also highlights how the ruling seems to get some rather basic issues flat out wrong.
Furthermore, it highlights that there is real harm from the censorship imposed by the ruling, while leaving the video up for a little more time is unlikely to create any additional harm (if it ever created any harm in the first place).
Google has been rebuffed in its effort to restore an anti-Muslim video on YouTube, shot down by a federal appeals court that on Friday rejected arguments
that requiring the company to take it down will cause irreparable harm because of its impact on online free speech.
In a brief order, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals denied a stay of a ruling earlier this week ordering Google to remove the Innocence of Muslims video from YouTube. The appeals court ordered YouTube to comply with the order within 24
hours, although Google lawyers already indicated in court papers they have already taken down the video.
Google argued the video should be restored on YouTube while the company presses an appeal of this week's decision, but the 9th Circuit refused. Google warns the ruling could have damaging free speech implications for the online world and make it
too easy for anyone to get an order removing video content from a website:
Under the (9th Circuit ruling), minor players in everything from Hollywood films to home videos can wrest control of those works from their creators, and service providers like YouTube will lack the ability to determine who has a valid copyright
Google has been denied two emergency stay motions against the decision by a divided three-judge panel. It vowed to continue resisting. We
strongly disagree with this ruling and will fight it, a spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
People who search for the video find a black screen with a short message from Google repeating its pledge to fight the decision. If the company fails to persuade the same judges to reverse their ruling its last resort will be the supreme court,
which may choose not to hear the case.
A second actor has sued Google over a movie called Innocence of Muslims that mocked the religious character Mohammad. Segments of the film were released on YouTube and violent protests were initiated in response in the muslim world.
Gaylord Flynn said he has received death threats and fears for his life while Google continues to provide its users with access to the film, according to his lawsuit, filed in a California federal court.
Flynn, who is also suing the film-maker, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula , said Google had refused to block access to the movie, even though a ninth US circuit court of appeals panel last February ordered it taken off Google's video-sharing website, YouTube. In
that case, actor Cindy Lee Garcia sued Google for an injunction, claiming she owned the copyright of her performance.
Google argued at the time that an injunction amounted to restricting speech in violation of the US constitution. The company is demanding a rehearing from the full appeals court.
Flynn said the film-maker concealed the true nature of his production. He said he thought he was hired for a movie called Desert Warrior and never consented to be in a religiously oriented film nor in one that propagates hate speech . Flynn, like
Garcia, said he did not sign a release and his own copyright interests remain intact, according to the complaint.
A federal appeals court will reconsider a decision to order YouTube to take down an anti-Muslim film clip. Muslims in the Middle East responded violently resulting in death threats to the actors over claims of blasphemy.
An 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena will hear arguments by Google, which owns YouTube, disputing the court's decision to remove Innocence of Muslims from the popular video sharing service.
Alex Lawrence, a copyright and intellectual property lawyer in New York not connected with the case, said he thinks the court will reverse the earlier ruling because the judges reached a decision to give Garcia some relief on thinly grounded law:
There's a lot of sympathy for Miss Garcia, Lawrence said. She got paid $500 and received death threats. Everyone feels sympathy for her, but using copyright in this way is a real problem for a lot of industries.
A US appeals court has overturned a controversial ruling that required YouTube to take down a video that disparaged Muslims.
One of the actresses in the film sued to take it down and won, but an appeals court has now ruled she didn't have the right to control the film's distribution.
A segment of the film titled Innocence of Muslims was released in 2012. Muslims in the Middle East responded with violent protests and death threats were made to the actors.
The latest court ruling said the order to take the movie down was unwarranted and incorrect and continued:
The appeal teaches a simple lesson -- a weak copyright claim cannot justify censorship in the guise of authorship.
Google, which owns YouTube, argued that allowing someone with a bit part in a movie to suppress the final product could set a dangerous precedent that could give anyone involved in a production the right to stop its release.