LOS ANGELES (CN) – An actress who claims she was tricked into appearing in the anti-Islamic film that triggered protests across the Muslim world has taken her fight to federal court.
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A week after suing in Superior Court, Cindy Lee Garcia filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against American filmmaker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, also known as “Sam Bacile.”
She claims his 14-minute trailer for a film called “Innocence of Muslims,” which Nakoula uploaded to YouTube on July 2, infringes on her copyrights and libels her.
The film gained notoriety around Sept. 11, when it was translated into Arabic. It has since sparked often violent protests in more than 40 countries, and has led to dozens of deaths worldwide.
“In the film, Mohammed, the founder of the Islamic religion, is painted in a light that is considered to be blasphemous by many Muslims,” Garcia claims. “Specifically, the film portrays (him) as a child molester, sexual deviant, and barbarian.”
Garcia claims that in the English version of the film, she “appears to accuse ‘Your Mohammed’ of being a ‘child molester.'”
“These are words that plaintiff never spoke,” the lawsuit states (emphasis in original).
Garcia says she was told she would be appearing in a film called “Desert Warriors,” which she described as “an adventure film set in ancient times.”
She claims Nakoula dubbed hers and other actors’ voices to include inflammatory speech.
“It is obvious that the words heard on the film are not consistent with the way in which plaintiff’s mouth moved — making it obvious she never uttered those words. These are words that plaintiff finds repugnant, vile and hostile and would never say in any context, even during the course of a performance,” the complaint states (original emphasis).
“Plaintiff is an ordained minister and would never debase another person’s religious beliefs,” Garcia adds.
She says she has a copyright claim in her performance, and has applied for federal copyright registration for her work in “Desert Warriors.”
She is also suing YouTube and owner Google, claiming they “have thus far refused to expeditiously remove or disable the infringing content,” despite her five “takedown notices.”
The controversial film has led to credible death threats against Garcia and has made her “a target of extremist violence,” according to the lawsuit.
A Superior Court judge last week declined to order YouTube and Google to take down the film.
Garcia seeks an order barring the defendants from reproducing or distributing her copyrighted work. She also demands restituion, along with actual and punitive damages, for copyright infringement, fraud, unfair business practices, libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Her attorney is M. Cris Armenta.
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