Submitted by Teri Karobonik last modified Thu, 05/21/2015 - 1:45pm
In November, New Media Rights joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, and others in filing an amicus brief urging the 9th Circuit to reaffirm the district court’s denial of a dangerous injunction that forced Google to take down the controversial "Innocence of Muslims" video based on a severe misapplication of law. Monday, the court did just that.
This decision is particularly good news for the filmmakers whom we work with, but it comes too late for some. In the 453 days the injunction against "Innocence of Muslims" was in place, we worked with several filmmakers threatened by actors that were unsatisfied with the final version of the film they acted in. In each of these cases, the actor relied on Garcia’s misapplication of copyright law in an attempt to remove otherwise entirely lawful content.
In the 453 days the injunction was in place it also became clearer that the current legal infrastructure to help filmmakers find the affordable legal services they need to thrive is woefully inadequate. All of the cases we encountered could have been prevented by an actor agreement or other crew release that took into account the legal uncertainty Garcia created by including a tailored copyright assignment clause. While the majority of the filmmakers we encountered did have written contracts; they relied on out of date form contracts that failed to account for the copyright in their actors performances since that right did not exist before the Appeal Courts prior ruling in Garcia.
While Mondays decision was a victory for free expression and copyright law, to ensure a world where expression is truly free we need to ensure all creators have access to the key legal infrastructure they need to create and thrive. In a world where heart wrenchingly bad facts make bad law it’s a matter of when not if the next major decision negatively affecting free expression occurs and we need to make sure creators are prepared to proactively deal with these decisions.