The release form suddenly provided this week by Innocence Of Muslims filmmaker Mark Basseley Youssef is a “forgery”, lawyers for actress Cindy Lee Garcia said today — and they’ve got an expert who agrees with them. Of course, it might not matter because Judge Michael Fitzgerald today canceled a scheduled December 3rd hearing on whether Garcia’s copyright claims to the film would give her the authority to request that YouTube take down the movie’s 14-minute trailer. The judge, who denied a previous injunction attempt by Garcia, said the actress hasn’t “established a likelihood of success based on the merits” of her case. “If Ms. Garcia is financially able, her legal team intends to file a motion for an immediate appeal before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals,” Garcia’s attorney Cris Armenta said this afternoon, calling the film a “heinous piece of hate speech.”
Posted online in September, the Innocence of Muslims trailer caused violent protests around the Muslim world and calls for the filmmaker’s death. Garcia has long claimed she never signed a release form for her participation in the controversial film, which was originally titled Desert Warriors. She has used that lack of a release to assert her own copyright over Innocence in trying to get YouTube it take it down. YouTube parent Google has insisted Garcia does not have a copyright claim.
A forensic document examiner today disputed the validity of the release form Google received from Youssef. “Given all of the observed handwriting differences, it was determined that the handwriting features observed on the question documents do not represent the natural, normal, nor genuine handwriting characteristics of Cindy Garcia,” says James Blanco in a filed declaration (read it here). Today Armenta also said (read the filing here) that it doesn’t matter if the release is real or not because it was “procured by fraud”, with Youssef using a false name and falsely representing the film to Garcia and other actors.
Google lawyer Timothy Alger submitted the release form to the court earlier this week in anticipation of a hearing on the matter set for Monday. Youssef himself suddenly provided an August 9, 2011 dated release form to Alger during a visit by the attorney to LA’s Metropolitan Detention Center this week. On the release form, Youssef goes by the name Sam Bessi. He has also gone by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and several other names. Youssef was sentenced to a year in jail on November 7 for parole violations related to his 2010 bank fraud conviction. Part of those violations had to do with Youssef’s use of various alias, something prohibited by his 2010 case. While claiming that some of the personal details about Garcia did check out, Alger did note in Wednesday’s filing that the actress’ lawyer “has expressed doubt that the Release is genuine.”