Rage Against the Video: Copyright Claims on Performance

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula being arrested by LA Sheriff deputies after violating the terms of his bank fraud parole agreement, namely to not use any computer without the knowledge and permission of his parole officer. Well to load the movie on youtube, one must use some sort of computer connected devices, oops!

Tragic deaths of Ambassador Stevens and others, rioting, and all sort of debate were the fallout from a short trailer posted up called “The Innocence of Muslims” which we found out was produced and posted by a Egyptian Coptic Christian (who carried a lot of hate toward Muslims).  He was a fanatic on the margins of society that catapulted himself into an international foreign crisis.

I had hoped to have moved on from this sad saga, however, I was wrong.  A few months later Susan Rice is being attacked by Senator McCain, who should retire just for having lost the Presidential election, won’t shut up about comments Rice made immediately following the incident.

But the real gem came a few days ago, right up my area of Nerdiness and Copyright law.  Cindy Garcia, one of the actresses in the movie, discovered what was going on, so she sued the Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, the Egyptian-born Coptic Christian living in the Los Angeles area who was behind the movie as well as Google (youtube.com) for copyright infringement.  Johnathan Pink does a great job setting up whats going on, read the excerpt below

The claim here, copyright and otherwise, are obviously made in attempt to get the film, i.e. speech, taken down. No one with even a modicum of understanding of copyright law and precedent could possibly think that she owns the copyright on either the film or her performance. This is settled law. Only the director is recognized as having creative control and, thus, the original copyright on the work. The MPAA and WIPO may be touting new monopoly powers for actors to dictate how their performances are expanded upon, but that wouldn’t apply here. And, lest you naively think that this is just Cindy Garcia, non-lawyer, almost-actress being all spurious and whatnot, she has an actual legal team working with her on this, and there is no evidence as of yet that this legal team is actually composed of drunk orangutans. These theoretically non-ape lawyers also have some curious notions about the laws and how this nation operates.

Read more on Reuters.

Garcia in her federal lawsuit also asserts a copyright claim to her performance in the video, yeh, copyright claims to her performance!

I am not surprised that the judge questioned the validity of such a claim. He said that even if she could prove a legitimate copyright interest in her film performance, she effectively relinquished her rights to producers of the film.  I wouldn’t have thought that an actor has any claims on their performance if they sign a waiver of those rights, which most actors do prior to beginning their work.  Its a well established industry standard.


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