SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — An anti-Muslim film that sparked violence in the Middle East and death threats to actors was reposted to YouTube on Tuesday, a day after a federal appeals court ruled the website should not have been forced to take it down.
The roughly 14-minute trailer for “Innocence of Muslims” was reposted by a YouTube user.
YouTube is owned by Google, which declined comment.
Monday’s court ruling by an 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cleared the way for YouTube to remove filters blocking users from posting the clip on its site.
The panel said a previous decision by a smaller group of judges from the same court ordering Google to take the film down gave “short shrift” to the First Amendment and constituted prior restraint — a prohibition on free speech before it takes place.
The smaller panel ordered YouTube to take the clip down last year in response to a copyright claim by an actress who appeared in the film. The film, however, could still be found elsewhere online.
Actress Cindy Lee Garcia sought to have the clip removed from YouTube after receiving death threats.
Garcia was paid $500 to appear in a movie called “Desert Warrior” that she believed had nothing to do with religion. But she ended up in a five-second scene in which her voice was dubbed over and her character asked if Muhammad was a child molester.
Her lawyer argued she had a copyright claim to the low-budget film.
Google countered that Garcia had no such claim because the filmmaker wrote the dialogue, managed the production and dubbed over her lines.
The larger 9th Circuit panel said it was sympathetic to Garcia’s concerns, but copyright law is not intended to protect people from the type of harm Garcia claimed to have suffered, including death threats.
The court cited a decision by the U.S. Copyright Office that denied Garcia’s copyright claim to the film.
Garcia’s attorney, Cris Armenta, said her client would likely not appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court in part because of financial considerations.
The film’s writer and director, Mark Basseley Youssef, initially posted the trailer on YouTube in 2012, according to the appeals court.
The film sparked rioting by those who considered it blasphemous to the Prophet Muhammad. President Barack Obama and other world leaders asked Google to take it down.
Google was joined in the case by an unusual alliance of filmmakers, other Internet companies and prominent news media organizations that didn’t want the court to alter copyright law or infringe on First Amendment rights.
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