Anti-Islam film ban lifted for Google

Cindy Lee Garcia / Innocence of Muslims Image copyright AP
Image caption Actress Cindy Lee Garcia said she had been tricked into appearing in the inflammatory anti-Islamic film.

An appeals court in San Francisco has ruled that a US-produced film called Innocence of Muslims, which sparked global riots after its release in 2012, should not be banned from YouTube.

A federal court had ordered Google to remove the controversial movie, which mocks the Prophet Muhammad, last year.

Actress Cindy Lee Garcia had said she had received death threats after being tricked into appearing in the film.

Google has said: "We're pleased with this latest ruling."

"We have long believed that the previous ruling was a misapplication of copyright law"

But no decision has yet been made over whether to reinstate the film on YouTube.

In the film, released as a trailer, Ms Garcia appears to ask whether the Prophet is a child molester.

But she said she had been told she had been performing in a completely different film and the lines dubbed without her knowledge after filming.

However, Google had argued that only the film-maker, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, owned the copyright, and, therefore, Ms Garcia had no right to demand its removal - and the appeals court agreed.

"In this case, a heartfelt plea for personal protection is juxtaposed with the limits of copyright law and fundamental principles of free speech," wrote Judge M Margaret McKeown.

"We are sympathetic to her plight. Nonetheless, the claim against Google is grounded in copyright law, not privacy, emotional distress, or tort law, and Garcia seeks to impose speech restrictions under copyright laws meant to foster rather than repress free expression."

Judge McKeown noted that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was currently in prison for unrelated offences.

"The decision short-changes the threats on the life of Cindy Lee Garcia who did not voluntarily participate in the hateful message that the controversial trailer about the Prophet Muhammad espoused around the world," wrote the actress's lawyer in a statement, reports Reuters.

Several people died in the global protests sparked by the film's release in September 2012.

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