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Innocence of Muslims, the controversial film that has sparked uproar across the Middle East for disparaging Muslims, has erupted into lawsuit.
Cindy Lee Garcia, one of the actresses in the film, has filed a complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court against the film’s producer Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (aka Sam Bacile), alleging that she was duped into appearing. She’s suing because the producers have allegedly violated her likeness and participated in fraud and unfair business practices.
In addition, Garcia is going after YouTube and its owner Google, after the video-sharing site refused to take down the film. She says she advised YouTube that the video contained unauthorized use of her image, but that the video wasn’t taken down.
She’s seeking a permanent injunction to remove the video from YouTube.
According to the complaint, “The lawsuit is not an attack on the First Amendment or the right of Americans to say what they think.”
Garcia says she is sticking up for the rights of actors.
Garcia says she responded to a casting call posted in Backstage for a film titled Desert Warrior, which was purportedly represented to her to be an “historical Arabian Desert adventure film.”
She alleges that producers concealed the purpose and content of the film, not mentioning “Mohammed” during filming, nor making references to religion nor any sexual content. She says she only agreed to deliver an acting performance in accordance with representations made about the script and the manner in which it was shot.
Garcia says that the resulting work was “changed grotesquely” from what she thought she had been doing, and modified to “make it appear that Ms. Garcia voluntarily performed in a hateful anti-Islamic production.”
The complaint goes onto say, “The Film is vile and reprehensible. Plaintiff was unaware of the vile content contained in the Film, as the content and overall purpose of the Film was concealed from them at all times.”
Garcia tells the court that she has received death threats as a result of the work. She says her family, fearing for their own safety, has no longer permitted her to see her grandchildren, whom she previously babysat regularly. She adds that she has been fired from her job by employers who also fear for their own safety.
As for YouTube’s inclusion as a defendant in the lawsuit, Google has purportedly informed her in writing that despite her privacy concerns, it won’t remove the content. (Google has not yet commented about the litigation.)
Besides an injunction, she’s also seeking exemplary and punitive damages for acts said to be “willful, wanton, malicious, and oppressive.” She’s asserting causes of action that include invasion of privacy, false light, right of publicity, fraud, slander, and intention infliction of emotional distress. She’s being represented by M. Cris Armenta at the Armenta Law Firm.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @eriqgardner
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