New Media Rights has joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, and others in filing an Amicus Brief urging the court to reaffirm the district court’s denial of a dangerous and over reaching injunction that forced Google to take down the controversial "Innocence of Muslims" video while a copyright lawsuit is pending.
Most of our work at New Media Rights is preventative and transactional, focused on helping people avoid legal problems and lengthy court battles before they begin. In this case, however, we've joined in filing this Amicus Brief because the recent Garcia v Google decision, if not reconsidered, will have negative consequences for free speech that will directly affect the creators and innovators we assist.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit's court's decision required an online service provider, Google, to censor the historical record by removing all copies of the video. The court then added a gag order to its decision preventing Google from talking about the controversial decision for a full week. The decision contradicted an earlier district court ruling that refused to restrain speech based on a highly debatable copyright claim.
The video in question, "Innocence of Muslims," sparked worldwide protests and debate in the fall of 2012. Actress Cindy Lee Garcia sued claiming she held a copyright in her 5-second performance the film. Although one can understand Garcia's interest in distancing herself from the film, the reality is copyright law was not the proper legal mechanism to do that. As a result, the court's decision threatens to create sprawling, poorly defined copyright protection in a variety of creative contributors, altering the way that copyright law protects contributions to film and video productions. Moreover, it’s misapplication of the preliminary injunction standard sets a dangerous precedent for online speech and global enforcement of US laws.
New Media Rights joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation, American Civil Liberties Union, Public Knowledge, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries, and the Association of Research Libraries in this brief.