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Appeals court orders YouTube to take down anti-Islamic film

Court orders "Innocence of Muslims," the controversial film that ignited international protest, to be removed from Google's video service.

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Google must remove a controversial anti-Islamic film from YouTube, after a US Appeals court on Wednesday ordered it to do so.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 that taking down the film did not constitute a prior restraint on speech -- Google's argument for initially refusing to remove it.

The video, "Innocence of Muslims," has incited international outrage and sparked protests around the world. Its surfacing online also coincided with attacks in Bengazi, Libya, in 2012, during which a US ambassador was killed.

The suit was originally brought on by Cindy Lee Garcia, who starred in the film. Garcia asserted that she had been hired to act in a different film, and that the footage was used in a movie that was unrecognizable as the one she originally signed on to do. In a particularly controversial scene, another voice had been partially dubbed over her footage, asking, "Is your Mohammed a child molester?"

Legally, Garcia claimed she was able to independently copyright her performance in the film. She also said she'd received death threats, and had suffered "irreparable harm."

"The situation in which a filmmaker uses a performance in a way that exceeds the bounds of the broad implied license granted by an actor will be extraordinarily rare," wrote Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, in the court's opinion. "But this is such a case."

"Ordering YouTube and Google to take down the film was the right thing to do," Cris Armenta, Garcia's lawyer, told Reuters. "The propaganda film differs so radically from anything that Ms. Garcia could have imagined when the director told her that she was being cast in the innocent adventure film."

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment. We'll update this post if we hear back.