09/07/2016

Garcia v. Google, Inc. and the Limited Rights of Motion Picture Actors Under American Copyright Law


Garcia v. Google, Inc. and the Limited Rights of Motion Picture Actors Under American Copyright Law

Jessica Watkins

The 9th Circuit’s Garcia v. Google decision accomplished little more than maintaining the status quo, further entrenching the notion that motion picture actors cannot claim copyright ownership in their individual performances. However, the virulent way in which Cindy Garcia’s performance in Innocence of Muslims was twisted and broadcast to the world begs the question of whether this aspect of copyright law should be revisited. The moral rights laws in other countries take into account the intimately personal nature of artistic expression, and recognize that creative expression is an extension of personhood. Furthermore, there are many aspects of modern technology that necessitate a fresh look at copyright ownership, characteristics that could not have even been fathomed when the Copyright Act was signed into law. Where Garcia has been less than helpful in its particular facts, it is useful as a starting point for refreshed attitudes about the potential for actors’ ownership of copyright in their performances. This article offers guidance for the next generation of copyright reform, pointing to foreign copyright regimes, privacy laws, and necessary alterations to the Copyright Act as a comprehensive starting point from which discussion and new legislation can evolve. What will hopefully follow is more predictability and security for motion picture actors whose performances are deserving of copyright protection.

98 J. Pat. & Trademark Off. Soc’y 249(2016)

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