By Alex Dobuzinskis
LOS ANGELES, Sept 20 An anti-Islam film trailer
that has spawned violent protests across the Muslim world can
remain on YouTube despite a request from a California actress to
have it taken down, a judge ruled on Thursday.
Actress Cindy Lee Garcia had sought to have the film removed
in a suit filed on Wednesday against YouTube parent company
Google Inc <G OOG.O> an d a California man linked to the film. She
argued that she was duped into taking part and had since
received death threats.
"The request for a temporary restraining order is denied.
The plaintiff has not shown a likelihood to prevail on the
merits," Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Luis Lavin said. A
date for a future hearing in the case was not immediately set.
Garcia's is the first known civil lawsuit connected to the
making of the video that depicts the Prophet Mohammad as a
womanizer and a fool. The film helped generate a torrent of
violence across the Muslim world last week during the
anniversary of the Sept. 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 in cities in Asia, Africa and the
Middle East by furious Muslims.
In her lawsuit, Garcia accused a producer of the movie, whom
she identified as Nakoula Basseley 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.
"There was no mention of 'Mohammad' during filming or on
set. There were no references made to religion nor was there any
sexual content of which Ms. Garcia was aware," read the lawsuit,
which accused Nakoula of fraud and slander.
For many Muslims, any depiction of the prophet is
blasphemous. Caricatures deemed insulting in the past have
provoked protests and drawn condemnation from officials,
preachers, ordinary Muslims and many Christians.
Last week, Google 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.
On Thursday, Garcia sat in court wearing a red blouse and
black skirt. At one point she raised her hand to speak when the
judge pointed out the actress has appeared in the media since
the film, despite making a claim to invasion of privacy. Garcia
was not allowed to address the court.
Her attorney, Cris Armenta, sought to persuade the judge
that Garcia, who is from Bakersfield, California, suffered harm
similar to a person whose privacy is violated in the
unauthorized release of a sex tape.
"This has to do with somebody who did not consent to a
certain product, and yet it was put out there," Armenta said.
An attorney for Google said the rights of an actor do not
protect that person from how a film is perceived.
"If we viewed it that way we'd say that Arnold
Schwarzenegger as a cyborg in 'Terminator' was a factual
statement about Arnold Schwarzenegger," lawyer Timothy Alger
said, adding that YouTube is only a host for the film clips that
it had no hand in producing or posting to the site.
U.S. officials have said authorities are not investigating
the film project itself and that even if it was inflammatory or
led to violence, simply producing it cannot be considered a
crime in the United States due to the nation's strong free
But Nakoula, a Coptic Christian California man who pleaded
guilty to bank fraud in 2010, was interviewed by federal
probation officers on Saturday probing whether he violated the
terms of his release while making the film.
Nakoula, who was released from prison in 2011, is prohibited
from accessing the Web or assuming aliases without the approval
of his probation officer, court records show. Violations could
result in him being sent back to prison.
Nakoula, 55, did not return to his house in the Los Angeles
suburb of Cerritos following his interview, and his whereabouts
are unknown. Last week, he denied involvement in the film in a
phone call to his Coptic bishop in Los Angeles.
Garcia, asked if a longer version of the film exists, told
reporters outside court before the hearing that she did not
believe the movie was ever finished.
"There is no entire movie, there's only that clip," she