Innocence of Muslims Actress Cindy Lee Garcia Lawsuit Against Nakoula Bassely Nakoula is Pointless

On Friday, a Los Angeles county judge denied Cindy Lee Garcia’s request for an injunction to remove the trailer of Innocence of Muslims from YouTube. There were three major reasons why Garcia’s request was denied; first, she was unable to produce a contract between her and the producers of Innocence of Muslims, secondly, Nakoula Bassely Nakoula was not served with a copy of the lawsuit, and thirdly, the judge cited federal law that limits third party liability for content.

This lawsuit brings up a number of interesting issues; does an actor have a legal remedy if they dislike the way their contribution to a piece has been used? Should actors be privy to all information regarding a project prior to signing on? In the case of Innocence of Muslims was it actually fraud? Well, an honest answer is that it depends. It depends on a number of factors that stem from a contract that would be signed by actors once they agree to participate in a project. Unfortunately for Garcia, she was unable to produce any documentation that would allow a judge to determine whether there had actually been a breach of contract turning "Desert Warrior" into Innocence of Muslims.

Ultimately, it is the duty of actor to make sure they sign a contract that details their rights and obligations and provides for some sort of legal remedy. While I do think that there are definitely elements of fraud and that the actors that participated in the film have legitimate complaints regarding the use of their images and voices, unfortunately, making those claims legally enforceable is going to be extremely difficult.

Even if claims by the actors were legally enforceable, what would be gained by removing the clip from YouTube? The fallout has already occurred and removing the clip from YouTube will do very little minimize the impact that the clip has already had. Should Garcia and any other actor seek future damages, they should focus their efforts on the creators and producers of the film and in the future be more careful in an industry that preys on the naiveté of actors trying to make it big. 

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Tye Tavaras

A native of Atlanta, Georgia with a B.A. from Emory University in International Studies. A graduate of The American University in Cairo with an M.A. in International Human Rights Law. Recently graduated with a Juris Master Degree from Emory Law School focused on International Law and currently works in the field of international education.

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