Innocence of Muslims: A Good Example of Why Talent Should Read Model Releases

By now most of the world has heard of the film “Innocence of Muslims.” The clips of this movie prompted widespread violence and anti-American demonstrations across much of the Muslim world.

Video clips of the movie were initially uploaded to YouTube in July 2012. Videos dubbed in the Arabic language were uploaded during early September 2012. On September 9, 2012, an excerpt of the YouTube video was broadcast on an Egyptian Islamist television station. Demonstrations and violent protests against the film broke out on September 11 in Egypt and Libya, and spread to other Arab and Muslim nations and some western countries. On September 11, 2012 an armed attack occurred on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya in which the U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed ( Please see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Innocence_of_muslims )

Originally titled “Desert Warrior” and shot in English. The film was transformed into the “Innocence of Muslims” by dubbing over certain lines in the movie and adding references to the Prophet Muhammad. This was obviously not what the actors had intended by their participation in the production.

So what does this have to do with porn ?

On Thursday, September 20, 2012, a Los Angeles judge denied one of the movie’s stars lawsuit to remove the videos from YouTube (Please see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/actress-in-anti-muslim-movie-sues-for-its-removal-online-sues-filmmaker-for-fraud/2012/09/19/694e5cd0-02b7-11e2-9132-f2750cd65f97_story.html ). Without going into the legal analysis of why the judge denied her request what is important is the fact that this occurred in the first place.

What allowed the producer to dub over the actors’ voices was the model release and the fact that there was probably a clause in that model release giving the producer the right to do whatever he/she wanted with the movie. Now, many of those involved with the production of movie or starred in the movie are receiving death threats.

However, we may never know what the model release said since the actress who filed the lawsuit, Cindy Lee Garcia, admitted she didn’t have a copy of the model release.

In the day of the smart phones with cameras there is absolutely no reason for a performer not to have a copy/photo of every page of every model release, contract and talent agency agreement they are asked to sign. Performers should simply take photographs of the documents and keep them in their phone or email the photographs to themselves, organize them and save them on their computer. You may never know when you will need such a copy as I am sure Cindy Lee Garcia now wishes she had.

My point is not that a performer’s starring role in “Babyz Got Huge Backsides” will be turned into a religious movie that sparks international controversy but rather a performer should not end up like Cindy Lee Garcia, in court fighting about a contract dispute without a copy of the contract he/she signed.

All producers should readily provide a copy of the model release and 2257 documentation for talent. If they do not it might be simply because there is no copy machine available on set. A simple photograph of the contract can achieve the same purpose. If someone does not want to provide a performer a copy of the contract, now that’s a different issue and perhaps that performer should question their motives for not giving them a copy. In those cases I would recommend that a performer not sign anything until they allowed the right to photograph all pages of the contract.

 

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