The producer for the movie "I'm Not Ashamed," starring "Duck Dynasty" star Sadie Robertson, is accusing Google of having an anti-Christian bias in its decision to remove the film's trailer from YouTube for over a year and is now considering legal action.
Chuck Howard, a former music producer-turned-filmmaker, created a YouTube channel last year in order to publish a movie trailer and other behind-the-scenes footage associated with the film "I'm Not Ashamed," a faith-based film based on the story and faith of the first student to be killed in the Columbine High School massacre of 1999, Rachel Scott.
The trailer for the film was viewed over 5 million times before the online film sharing site took down the channel and the trailer last October. Additionally, YouTube has not provided the filmmakers with concrete details on why the company removed the channel.
The channel was reinstated last month only after The Hollywood Reporter inquired about the situation. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the filmmakers spent months trying to get YouTube to explain why they had removed the movie and what was so offensive about the film but never received any explanation from the company.
But even after reinstatement, the channel was hit with a "temporary penalty" and was warned that further videos that are deemed objectionable "could prevent you from posting content to YouTube or even lead to your account being terminated."
The Hollywood Reporter reports that the filmmakers are now being counseled by the Alabama-based law firm Massey, Stotser & Nichols and are still trying to force YouTube to explain its decision to remove the channel. The law firm is also looking to get YouTube to remove the penalty placed on the company's channel.
In an interview with the The Washington Times, Howard said that filmmakers are indeed considering all legal action.
"As of yet, we have not filed suit against Google, but are exploring all options," Howard said. "We've missed 11 months' worth of advertising. They've destroyed us from carrying the momentum that we originally had going forward."
In a statement shared with The Christian Post, a YouTube spokesperson suggested that the movie was originally flagged by users of the site and that there might have been a mistake in the decision to remove the channel and trailer.
"With the massive volume of videos on our platform, sometimes we make the wrong call on content that is flagged by our community," the statement reads. "When this is brought to our attention, we review the content and take appropriate action, including restoring videos or channels that were mistakenly removed."
Despite the YouTube's statement, Howard told the Times that it is hard to believe that YouTube would take down the channel for so long, especially considering all the other highly objectionable videos that are posted to the site.
"They have bootleg movies and all this kind of stuff up there, but they take down my site?" Howard asked. "They have recruitment of ISIS on the site and beheadings, but they take down my video? I can't believe it."
"It's hard to fathom that we actually live in the United States," he added. "I keep thinking that I'm going to wake up and this is like a nightmare."
A letter sent to YouTube from lawyer Garrick Stotser explains that since the trailer has been reinstated, it has received "virtually no views."
"My client was never provided with any clear explanation or substantiation of why the movie trailer was removed," the letter states, according to Hollywood Reporter. "YouTube's removal of the movie trailer has interfered with promotional activities of the film."
Additionally, the letter asks for "compensation for 11 months of lost online marketing for the movie."
Before the movie was released last week, the website That Atheist Show published criticism of the film and claimed that its depiction of a scene in which Scott stood by her faith when asked by one of the shooters if she still believed in God is not included in police reports of the events that took place.
CP reported last week that filmmakers are standing by their story and asserted that the conversation was found in later statements made by witness Richard Castaldo, who was near Scott when the shooters began to fire.