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Garcia v. Google

Liability of Web Site Operators – An actress whose performance, allegedly procured by fraud, was used for a few seconds in the film Innocence of Muslims, portraying her as having uttered words questioning whether Mohammed was a child molester, claimed both that the filmmakers libeled her by dubbing objectionable words over her performance, and committed fraud and unfair business practice under California law by misleading her about the nature of the film in which her performance would be used. Because Google, on whose YouTube service the movie was hosted, was immune from suit for such state-law claims, the actress sued for copyright infringement. The trial court denied her a preliminary injunction, but a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that she could claim a copyright in her performance and hence could compel Google to remove the movie from YouTube. Google sought review en banc. Public Citizen has urged the Ninth Circuit to consider the doctrines of prior restraint and copyright misuse in deciding whether to grant en banc review of the preliminary injunction issued by the panel. Public Citizen also argues that Garcia’s state-law claims of fraud, unfair business practices and libel provide a much sounder basis for relief against further publication of the movie. After the Ninth Circuit granted rehearing en banc, Public Citizen amplified its views in brief filed on the merits.