The Church of Scientology
Questions and Answer about the Churchs' actions to uphold religious freedom, copyright law and trade secret protections on the Internet.
Since 1995, Church of Scientology organizations have filed suit against a number of individuals and organisations for copyright and trade secrets violations on the Internet. The following questions and answers explain why the Church has found it necessary to take these actions and address specific questions which have been raised in some media about the issues of copyright infringement, trade secrets violations and religious freedom, as it applies to these cases.
Unfortunately, the Church's efforts to handle the problem short of a raid and seizure had all been bluntly rebuffed by the infringers themselves. Every one of them was on notice that he was in violation of copyright and trade secrets law by making illegal postings of the Church's protected materials. In each case, they continued their infringing actions nonetheless. One of the infringers, Dennis Erlich, even boasted on the Internet that no court had the power to make him cease his unlawful postings.
Knowing that any attempt by the Church to dialogue, even a casual contact, was deliberately mislabelled, the Church sent two middle-aged women to talk to another of the infringers, Arnaldo Lerma. Lerma was rude to the ladies and refused to talk to them.
Bulletin board systems operator Tom Klemesrud hung the phone up on a Church attorney who had called him to express her concerns that one of his clients was violating copyrights in some of his posts -- even though Klemesrud's own BBS regulations prohibit users from engaging in such activity.
The disks are examined by independent computer experts who have no affiliation with the Church. The purpose of the searches is to locate the infringing material.
Other protections have been implemented pursuant to court rulings, where appropriate. For example, following the raid and seizure at the premises of Larry Wollersheim, Wollersheim's attorneys were told by the judge that they could send their own computer expert or attorneys over to observe the search of the seized materials. They declined to do so, however.
Of course, the copyright infringers themselves are the ones who have created this problem for themselves, if it exists. First, by breaking the law. Second, by mixing infringing and non-infringing materials together in their disks and files. When this point was brought up before the judge in the Wollersheim case, he stated that he did not know how to separate "the wheat from the chaff" other than by searching the materials.
Free speech does not mean free theft.
Violators of copyright and trade secret laws traditionally try to hide behind free speech and illegitimate "fair use" claims and United States courts regularly reject such claims in upholding copyrights. The Church is a strong proponent of free speech, knows and cherishes the First Amendment and has defended human rights all over the world. We have been publishing our own investigative magazine, Freedom, since 1968. When in the 1970s, long before anti-apartheid was the vogue, we exposed human rights atrocities committed against blacks in South Africa, our magazine was banned by the then South African government. However, independent investigation by the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed what Freedom had reported. In Australia, Scientologists fought for more than a decade to expose atrocious human rights abuses in a psychiatric hospital in Chelmsford near Sydney. Their dogged persistence in the face of psychiatric opposition and official apathy was the decisive factor in eventually bringing about a Royal Commission of Enquiry, as the Australian media recognized. The two-year enquiry uncovered 183 patient deaths and recommended a thorough shake-up of mental health care in New South Wales, along with a mental health bill of rights.
The Church also recognizes that individual rights such as freedom of speech were not developed to protect wrongdoers from the consequences of their unlawful actions . Otherwise an extortionist could hide behind freedom of speech. An obscene phone caller could hide behind freedom of speech. People phoning in bomb threats could hide behind freedom of speech.
Nobody has the right to cloak themselves in the First Amendment to break the law. The Constitution is not a fortress for criminals. In fact, it is their unlawful acts, which they justify with First Amendment excuses, which destroy our constitutional rights.
To work for freedom of speech in the world is a part of the Church's creed. And it does have to be worked for. Unless free speech and other basic liberties are constantly fought for and made real, they exist only on paper and will eventually be trampled by vested interests.
Concerned at the gradual erosion of civil liberties in the United States and other countries, Scientologists have actively campaigned to protect and preserve our basic freedoms. Knowing that misinformation about individuals in government files can harm or ruin lives, the Church has spearheaded the rights of citizens to gain access to government documents about themselves. From its beginning, we have advocated widespread use of the Freedom of Information Act and have campaigned against efforts to narrow its application. And, when Freedom of Information legislation was passed in France, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Italy and Belgium, members of the Church played a decisive role to bring these laws about.
In the 1970s, the Church published a popular booklet that briefs Americans on their rights under the Act and instructs them on its use. The booklet was updated in 1989 and requests for copies continue to come in every week. In the courts, the Church has established precedents that hold the government accountable to release information to the public on a variety of subjects.
Through Freedom magazine, the human rights journal which the Church has published since 1968, the Church has awarded and acknowledged numerous individuals who, often against substantial odds, have helped preserve and strengthen our civil liberties. Among those honored by Freedom have been outstanding human rights advocate Dr. Arthur A. Fletcher, then chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; syndicated columnist Jack Anderson, who has been remorseless in his exposes of corruption in high places; and former congressman John Moss, father of the Freedom of Information Act.
Noted American author and expert on US intelligence matters, Victor Marchetti, after examining the Church's unprecedented efforts to protect citizens' rights, declared, "I would like to commend the Church of Scientology for its faith in itself and its determination to work within the constitutional system of our nation.... By its tenacity and determination, the Church of Scientology has forced [the] government to adhere to the Constitution."
They have predictably attempted to divert attention from their illegal actions through efforts at disinformation, especially to the media.
These individuals acted as if they believed that they could get away with breaking the law. It is not surprising that they howl in protest now they have at last been caught. Underneath the furore they seek to create, however, lies this fact: Following every raid and seizure the Church has discovered abundant evidence of copyrights and trade secrets violations. Searches of materials seized from the premises of Larry Wollersheim and Bob Penny, for example, have resulted in the discovery of hundreds of infringements.
Copyright and trade secret violators are simply thieves and liars who often masquerade as "critics." Imagine someone stole the lyrics to an unpublished song from you and sent them out over the Internet, in violation of your rights. When the law catches up with the thief, he defends himself saying you are attempting to silence him because he is a "critic." Of course he is a critic -- no friend would steal what belongs to you.
The Church has taken no action against critical messages about Scientology posted on the Internet -- it has only taken action where postings have violated its copyrights and trade secrets. There are thousands of messages about Scientology on the Internet every day. There is a tremendous desire among people both on and off the Internet to know more about Scientology. In response to this demand, Leisa Goodman, Media Relations Director for the Church of Scientology International, has put up her own "home page" which contains basic information about Scientology. This site, which receives "hits" daily from all over the world, is located at http://www.theta.com/goodman.
One could equally claim that by arresting computer hackers, one gives them publicity as their arrests are reported in the newspapers. Many people never heard of Kevin Mitnick until he was caught.
If no action were taken in the face of patently illegal conduct, then crime would soon reach uncontrollable proportions leading eventually to chaos. That is why we have laws.
Also, it is the responsibility of intellectual property owners to enforce their rights or risk losing them.
The Church would far prefer that it did not have to sue. However, it is prepared to take the legal actions necessary to protect the Church's rights, if measures short of litigation are unsuccessful. Every major battle that the Church of Scientology has engaged upon throughout its history to secure the rights of its parishioners has ultimately been won. The Church is confident that it will win these ones, too.
No one expects them to. They are being asked to take action on complaints that they receive, which is the traditional way in which access providers have in the past dealt with suspected lawbreakers on the Internet.
An access provider has a responsibility to promulgate rules of conduct for its users and to enforce their rules. Most access providers have such rules and enforce them in a range of situations. While it can be argued that access providers have no responsibility for controlling the tremendous flow of information through their systems, when evidence is presented of infringement of intellectual property rights, then access providers have a responsibility to take action. Moreover, when a particular user has shown a repeated pattern of abuse, the person should be removed from the system, or the access provider held liable for any damage created.
The precise mechanics of such a system of self regulation are beyond the parameters of this question and answer format. However, if such a system were developed in cooperation among access providers and copyright owners, it would work and would benefit the entire Internet community.
Access providers do not have to decide if the message is a copyright violation.
Systems operators are not a judge or jury and are not expected to act like one. The time-honored way of handling such matters on the Internet is for the sysops to act when they receive complaints. When a user's actions are generating complaints, sysops should and often do act when necessary to prevent copyright infringement, pornography, or other postings which are illegal, tortious or otherwise objectionable. If the complaint cannot be easily sorted out between the poster and complainant, accounts are frequently suspended while a complaint is investigated.
When the Internet was started about 25 years ago, a set of ground rules were established among users which defined what "good citizenship" on the Internet is. Certain categories of behavior were deemed "bad citizenship" and were discouraged primarily by peer pressure. Such undesirable behavior included advertising for monetary gain, profane language, personal attacks, broadcast of stolen personal or confidential materials and any activities prohibited by U.S. law. As pointed out by Dr. Alfonso F. Cardenas , author of several books on computer subjects and Professor of the Computer Science department of UCLA:
"In general, University Network access providers do continue efforts of assuring good citizenship by their users, students, professors and staff.... Several million of us users expect this. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of a number of new access providers. Many of the worst offenders are now some irresponsible BBSses, often a person with a small PC operating out of a room or garage."
Service providers have generally been responsive to the Church's requests to take action against copyright violators. Major universities such as Bristol, Carnegie Mellon and Denver promptly issued warnings to the offender. Others conducted an ethics hearing on the user or took some other form of action. Other service providers have sent strong messages to the unlawful poster that a single recurrence would lead to termination of his or her account.
To release these materials to individuals who have not completed requisite prior steps of religious study and counseling could be disruptive of their progress towards the greater spiritual freedom they can achieve through Scientology.
This applies not only to those currently participating in Scientology religious services but to everyone who may do so in the future. The goal of the Scientology religion is not to create ultimate spiritual freedom merely for anyone who is a Scientologist today. It is to create ultimate spiritual freedom for everyone on the planet. This cannot happen if people with no right or interest in reaching that goal are permitted to usurp the ability to decide how the scriptures are handled.
Professor Lonnie Kliever, Professor of Religious Studies at Southern Methodist University in Texas, has explained why advanced-level spiritual truths cannot simply be dumped on people:
"Religious educators have long recognized that one cannot just transmit esoteric religious doctrine willy-nilly... Wholesale revelation of higher level truths may even be destructive of a person's growth in faith."
Professor Kliever goes on to explain that in many religions certain doctrines are withheld until the person is able to receive them "in the context of a maturer faith."
Not in the least.
Precedents in law establish that even if part of a trade secret has appeared in public, the right to that trade secret still exists. In a 1991 case, Shalk v Texas, two former employees of Texas Instruments had been convicted of violating Texas criminal trade secret law by copying disks containing trade secret information. They appealed, arguing that the company had forfeited its trade secret rights by publicizing information in articles, seminars and public meetings. The court upheld the convictions. It found that the measures Texas Instruments had taken to maintain secrecy were adequate and that the ex-employees had copied the information without permission.
In another case, Colony Corporation of America v Crown Glass Corp, the court ruled in 1981 that if a third party knowingly misappropriates a trade secret, having come by the information through another's wrongdoing, he is liable to the same degree as the original violator.
Further, courts have held, as in Computer Print Systems v Lewis, that organizations have a right to expect that those obtaining authorized access will not disclose trade secrets. The Church has never given permission for confidential, unpublished scriptures to be made public and has always taken detailed and stringent measures to preserve their confidentiality. These materials have never passed into unauthorized hands in any form except through theft or misappropriation.
We certainly do. The vast majority of Scientology literature is available for anyone to study. In fact, the Church of Scientology is probably, member for member, the most active religion in the world in making its beliefs and practices available for discussion and use. Scientology materials are available in more than 120 countries and in upwards of 31 languages.
The encyclopedic volume, What Is Scientology?, available in every Church bookstore, contains a comprehensive description of the religion, its beliefs, practices, creeds, codes, social reform and community betterment activities and much, much more. Eight hundred and thirty-three pages in length, it also contains a complete listing of the books, taped lectures and films that comprise the scriptures of the religion. One hundred and forty pages are devoted to the background and origin of Scientology; thirty-six pages describe its principles and application; seventy-three pages discuss in detail a myriad of specific religious services. The book also contains an exposition of how Scientology churches are organized and operated; a full explanation of the graduated steps to spiritual freedom; a chapter on "What Occurs in a Church of Scientology"; recommendations as to how a new parishioner should proceed in Scientology and why; answers to common questions; the axioms (basic principles) of Scientology and a great deal more.
Copies of What Is Scientology? have been donated to libraries all over the world.
Its companion volume, The Scientology Handbook, eight hundred and seventy-one pages in length, is devoted to covering in detail various practices of Scientology, expounding on their use and providing instruction on their application. Again, copies are available in all Church bookstores and have been donated to libraries all over the world. Anyone can read this book, discuss it and try out the practical applications of Scientology given in the book.
Further, more than 40 different books and hundreds of taped lectures on Dianetics and Scientology by the Founder, L. Ron Hubbard, are available in Church bookshops. A number of these books, such as the bestselling Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, may also be purchased at bookstores throughout the United States and numerous other countries.
This does not even include the various booklets and brochures that the Church has published to help explain the Scientology religion to interested people. Nor does it touch on the numerous tapes, videos and television advertisements that are used to make basic principles of Scientology as widely known as possible.
While anonymity does have some uses, it carries with it a major liability: Anonymity precludes responsibility and accountability.
As Walter S. Mossberg wrote in the Wall Street Journal, computerized discussion forums "... are a publishing medium, like newspapers and magazines, where messages are posted for days or weeks for millions to see and debate. When these forums operate under the cloak of anonymity, it's no different from printing a newspaper in which the bylines are admittedly fake, and the letters to the editor are untraceable. It sure makes it easier to spread wild conspiracy theories, smear people, conduct financial scams or victimize others sexually."
An individual can, untraceably, traffic in child pornography, infringe copyrighted works, spread false and libelous information on bulletin boards and even read and answer another person's mail.
A remedy to stem the abuse may take the form of requiring those who "remail" messages to identify actual sources of anonymous postings that violate the law. These remailers may then be held responsible for unlawful postings when necessary. Treating anonymity in this way aligns with current practices in other communications media. In news reporting, for example, publishers have long been free to print information from anonymous sources, but are still deemed responsible for the accuracy of their publications.
Alternatively, users may need to provide some form of identification or registration on their communications. The point is that the names of individuals who post anonymously should be available for purposes of law enforcement if it turns out that a tort or a crime has been committed. Otherwise, anonymity can easily become a refuge for criminals and those who would use it to violate the legal rights of others.
With such a solution applied to the Internet, citizens would have protection from rip-offs and other unlawful activity. To make protecting oneself possible, federal regulations which limit the quality of encryption systems should be disposed of, so that computers, software and networks can be safe.
Ultimately, the solution lies in making sure the few abusers of on-line services do not act -- nor are permitted to act -- above the law.
No. Existing legislation, perhaps with some amendments to take account of the uniqueness of the Internet as a communications medium, contains the remedies for abuses. But ultimately, the solution lies in encouraging ethical and responsible use of this dynamic and promising medium by service providers, BBSes and users.
This is a group established by the Church of Scientology to encourage users in responsible and ethical use of the Internet by adopting voluntary guidelines for Internet use.
Answers part 1
Overview of Questions