"It is our policy not to comment on individual videos or users," said a Google spokeswoman via email. Per Google's guidelines, the Removing Videos from YouTube help page notes, "You can only remove videos that you have uploaded yourself," although it does allow that some videos might be excised for public safety or copyright reasons.
The film has been attributed to Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, who's also used the name Sam Becile in media interviews. Nakoula is reportedly a Christian who's originally from Egypt. After the film's uploading to YouTube, Nakoula appeared in court on charges that he'd violated the terms of his 2010 conviction for banking fraud. After serving 21 months in prison, Nakoula had been released on bail, which included the condition that he not use a computer unless under the supervision of his probation officer.
At least one of the actors in the film subsequently sued the film's producers -- including Nakoula -- as well as YouTube, alleging that the producers "intentionally concealed the purpose and content of the film," which in its final version portrays the Muslim prophet Muhammad as both a killer and a pedophile. But according to one lawsuit, filed by actress Cindy Lee Garcia, the film had been billed as a "historical Arabian Desert adventure" called Desert Warrior, and contained no reference to religion or sexual content. The film's actors have also alleged that their words were changed via overdubbing, after filming.
Besides riots, the film apparently also triggered the long-running Operation Ababil campaign of DDoS attacks against U.S. banks. But the YouTube takedown of one copy of the movie apparently caused the group to halt attacks planned this week against 10 U.S. banks, following what it said was a series of attacks last week against these 26 U.S. banks: "Wells Fargo, BoA, PNC, CapitalOne, Citibank, HarrisBank, Huntington, Zions Bank, Regions F.C., J.M. Chase, BB&T, Key, Union bank, Comerica, 5/3, FirstCitizens, CitizenBank, UMPQUABANK.COM, Peoples U.F., UFCU, BBVACompass, UMB, PATELCO, M&T BANK, BankOfTheWest and Synovus F.C."
Many banks that have been targeted by the group's attacks haven't confirmed every apparent surge in attack traffic or website disruption. But in recent weeks, banking website users have reported apparent disruptions -- via the Sitedown website -- involving the websites of Bank of America, Fifth Third Bank and Wells Fargo, among other financial institutions. Obviously, the group's DDoS reprieve is good news for targeted banks, but the group is still demanding that other versions of the movie hosted on YouTube be blocked, including four copies on YouTube that collectively have over 9 million views, among other versions, including full-length features. "All of them needed to be removed," said the group. "Meanwhile, we will control the situation constantly and closely and will adopt the correct decision according to the future circumstances."
How might those copies be removed? Per Google's guidelines, while the main copy of Innocents of the Muslims has been taken down, triggering the removal of all other copies would still require the copyright holder -- presumably, Nakoula -- to issue a formal takedown request with Google.
InformationWeek is surveying IT executives on global IT strategies. Upon completion of our survey, you will be eligible to enter a drawing to receive an Apple 32-GB iPad mini. Take our 2013 Global CIO Survey now. Survey ends Feb. 8.