Two and a half years after the short anti-Islam video became the center of an international and legal storm, the heated roller coaster ride ended today – which means YouTube, studios and networks can breathe a little easier copyrightwise. “Based on the parties’ Stipulation for Dismissal of Action, the Court hereby dismisses this action with prejudice, with each party to bear its own fees and costs,” said a federal judge Monday (read it here). The order from Judge Michael Fitzgerald comes just days after all the parties involved in the potentially groundbreaking case asked for it to be over. “Plaintiff Cindy Lee Garcia (“Plaintiff”), defendant Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, and defendants Google Inc. and YouTube, LLC stipulate and agree …the above-entitled action may be dismissed with prejudice with each party to bear its own fees and costs,” said the parties in a June 26 filing in federal court here in California.
Even though Garcia has been fighting since late 2012 to get Innocence Of Muslims pulled down off the Internet, the move in the past week and today’s dismissal wasn’t unexpected. Removing what many saw as a copyright landmine for the tech giant and Hollywood in general, a 10-1 decision on May 18 by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeal overturned the ruling last year ordering Google to pull the 14-minute film. That pretty much made it a fait accompli that the case was done. Still asserting copyright over Innocence, Garcia could have pushed to take it the Supreme Court. However, as she herself acknowledged last month, while the legal opportunity was there, the finances to keep fighting Google were not.
Put up online in September 2012, the Innocence Of Muslims trailer caused violent protests around the Muslim world as well as calls for the death of its supposed filmmaker Mark Basseley Youssef. Garcia had also received death threats. It also, for a time, was cited as one of the reasons for the fatal attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya that saw Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and several others killed.
A couple of months after the trailer of a sort became the focus of international outrage, Youssef was jailed for a year on parole violations related to a 2010 bank fraud case. He was released a year later. Claiming her life was in jeopardy, Garcia and her lawyer Cris Armenta around the same time used the lack of a proper release to allege her own copyright over Innocence in their sometimes successful and sometimes not efforts to get the Google-owned YouTube to take it down.
After numerous ups and downs it’s now all over with a legal whimper.
Google were represented by Timothy Alger and Sunita Bali of Perkins Coie LLP. Ex-Acting Soliciter General Neal Katyal, now with the multinational Hogan Lovells, was also on TeamGoogle