A judge Thursday refused to order YouTube to take down the film trailer that has inflamed the Muslim world, rejecting a plea from an actress who says she was duped into appearing in the project.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Luis Lavin rejected the request from Cindy Lee Garcia, an actress who appears in the clip, in part because the man behind it was not served with a copy of the lawsuit. Also, Garcia wasn't able to produce any agreement she had with filmmakers, Lavin said.
The judge also cited a federal law that protects third parties from liability for content they handle.
"That leaves really little to support your application," he said to Garcia's lawyer, Cris Armenta.
The judge's ruling means the 14-minute trailer for "Innocence of Muslims," which has been blamed for sparking deadly violence, can continue to be viewed online.
YouTube, which is owned by Internet search giant Google, has blocked users in Saudi Arabia, Libya and Egypt from viewing the clip. It also has blocked the video from being viewed in Indonesia and India because it violates laws in those countries.
It is unclear who uploaded the trailer to the site, and how the judge's decision would be interpreted outside of the U.S. The clip has been linked to protests that have killed at least 30 people in seven countries, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.
On Wednesday, Garcia filed a lawsuit for fraud and slander against Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the man behind the video who has gone into hiding since it rose to prominence last week.
YouTube has refused Garcia's requests to remove the film. Her lawsuit contends that keeping it online violates her right of publicity, invades her privacy rights and that post-filming dialogue changes cast her in a false light.
Timothy Alger, the lawyer representing Google at Thursday's hearing, said the Internet company shouldn't be responsible for what transpired between Garcia and the filmmakers. He noted that while the clip has stirred violence, U.S. law doesn't mandate the trailer be removed from YouTube.
"No matter how you view the content ... it is something of widespread debate," Alger said.
Garcia has said she and her family have been threatened and her career damaged since the clip surfaced online.
"Emotionally, I am very disturbed," Garcia said before heading into court Thursday.
"My whole life has been turned upside down in every aspect," she added. "My family has been threatened."
Her lawyer, Armenta, argued in court that her client was used a puppet to make the film, and she was clearly defrauded and lied to by the people behind the film.
"She did not sign on to be a bigot," Armenta said.
Garcia said she was duped by the man behind the clip and that the script she saw referenced neither Muslims nor Prophet Muhammad. She said she was shocked when she finally saw the end result and that her voice had been dubbed.
"I think we need to take it (the film) off because it will continue to cause more problems," she said. "I think it's demoralizing, degrading."