Earlier this year, Socially Aware noted a peculiar decision out of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals holding that an actress owns a copyright interest in her five-second performance in a film and thus could demand the removal of all copies of the film posted to YouTube.
The actress, Cindy Lee Garcia, claims that she had been duped into appearing in the anti-Islamic film, called The Innocence of Muslims.
After the film went viral, Garcia received death threats for her involvement in the project. While everyone generally sympathizes with her predicament, the Ninth Circuit’s decision creates serious issues for both the entertainment community and online distributors of user-generated content, two industries that seldom share common cause.
Shortly after the three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit issued its decision, Google sought en banc review by the Ninth Circuit. In “friends of the court” briefs, a broad spectrum of interested parties such as Facebook, Netflix, Pinterest, Twitter, Yahoo!, National Public Radio, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and the documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock of “Super Size Me” fame joined with Google.
Now, eight months after Google first sought en banc review, the Ninth Circuit has agreed to rehear the case. In a procedure unique to the Ninth Circuit, the case will be heard by 11 of its 29 active judges, rather than the full court. The hearing is currently scheduled to take place during the week of December 15, 2014 in Pasadena, California. A decision will likely be issued sometime in early 2015.