Google continues legal battle over film

Search engine continues legal battle after actor wins copyright claim

Google has pledged to challenge a legal ruling that saw a controversial film removed from YouTube, suggesting this violated the right to free speech set out in the US constitution.

The film, entitled Innocence of Muslims, has prompted protests from viewers angered by its anti-Islamic content. There was further uproar when it emerged the 14-minute clip had been altered by producer Mark Basseley Youssuf, so that anti-Islamic dialogue was dubbed over the original lines spoken by the performers without their knowledge.

This prompted one actor, Cindy Lee Garcia, to claim copyright over her role, saying she had received death threats after the video was posted online. She was paid $500 for five seconds of screen time, which she alleged had put her career and security at risk.

Garcia's success with this action meant that she was able to request for the video to be taken down from YouTube, a move Google claims could set a dangerous precedent for future material. The ruling only applies to Garcia's performance, meaning the rest of the video can theoretically still be uploaded.

Google concerned by ruling

Since this ruling, Google has made its stance very clear. A message posted in place of the original video reads: "We strongly disagree with this ruling and will fight it."

It is allegedly concerned that copyright claims such as the one brought forward by Garcia will prompt a flurry of further disputes, many of which will be without merit and will cause Google unnecessary problems.

Additionally, some analysts have suggested that Google would need to monitor user activity in order to comply with the ruling, which states that the search engine is also responsible for ensuring the content is not uploaded by another user.

This would likely be an unattractive proposition for Google, which last year joined forces with seven other technology companies to challenge the US government on its surveillance techniques.

In contrast, some analysts have suggested that the unique nature of this case, in which a performer's work was fundamentally altered without their consent or knowledge, will mean no wider precedent is set.

Daniel Nolan, managing director at theEword, said: "This is clearly a very delicate situation for Google, which is obviously concerned about the wider implications of this ruling on future content. It will be interesting to see how it continues to argue its case, and indeed just how far it will be prepared to push this issue."