A US court has decided that the controversial film “Innocence of Muslims” should not be banned from YouTube.
A federal court ordered Google to remove the movie last year, but now an appeal hearing in San Francisco has ruled that the film should be made available. Its release in 2012 led to riots worldwide and several deaths.
Google is reportedly pleased with the new outcome, but has not yet officially stated that the film will be reinstated online.
"We're pleased with this latest ruling," said the search engine firm. "We have long believed that the previous ruling was a misapplication of copyright law"
One individual likely to be less pleased with the ruling is actress Cindy Lee Garcia, who claims that she was tricked into appearing in the film. During the movie, Ms Garcia seems to ask whether the Prophet Muhammad is a child molester, but she claims that her lines were dubbed and that she was unaware of the nature of the film.
Judge McKeown understood Ms Garcia’s objections, but said that only the film’s maker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula owned the movie’s copyright and so she was not in position to demand its removal.
"In this case, a heartfelt plea for personal protection is juxtaposed with the limits of copyright law and fundamental principles of free speech," the judge explained.
"We are sympathetic to her plight. Nonetheless, the claim against Google is grounded in copyright law, not privacy, emotional distress, or tort law, and Garcia seeks to impose speech restrictions under copyright laws meant to foster rather than repress free expression."
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the writer, producer and promoter of Innocence of Muslims, served a year in prison for violating the terms of his probation in 2012, including making false statements regarding his role in the film.