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Censorship Your Rights Online

eBay E-Meter Auctions Yanked 203

Posted by jamie
from the bake-him-away-toys dept.
Does the Digital Millennium Copyright Act cover electrical religious artifacts? Apparently the Church of Scientology thinks so. eBay has been yanking auctions of e-meters because of complaints by the CoS. In response to queries by a collector, eBay said "the Church of Scientology is giving us Notices of Infringement, which we are legally required to honor. These items are being ended for that reason." Does the DMCA really prohibit the sale of these boxes? (more)

The short answer is: "No" -- as far as I can tell -- I'm not a lawyer. But this is just one more data point in the disturbing trend of the DMCA being used as an all-purpose club to remove material from the Internet.

On hearing of this, my first thought was that perhaps the devices in question are actually licensed somehow, instead of being sold outright. But I spoke to two former members and the spouse of a current member of the CoS, each of whom assured me categorically that the devices were purchased outright, with no license required to be signed. A staffer at the Lisa McPherson Trust found a catalog where anyone can buy an e-meter; the "public price" is a little higher than the price to CoS members, but there are no apparent limitations to the purchase. A credit card is all you'll need.

The device itself is just an electrical mechanism, somewhat like a fancy multimeter or oscilloscope. It's patented, but of course thousands of patented items are sold on eBay every day.

To members of the Church of Scientology, however, it's more than just an electrical device. It's used in "auditing," which apparently helps new members advance in the program. Members of the CoS who have become experienced in this process are licensed by the CoS to audit others (but, again, the purchase of the items themselves is not under license).

Some e-meters apparently have Intel Inside (an 8-bit microprocessor which performs some rudimentary functions). But ever since a 1963 raid in which the FDA took exception to the marketing of the device as medically beneficial, e-meters have carried a disclaimer which begins: "By itself, this meter does nothing. It is solely for the guide of Ministers of the Church in Confessionals and pastoral counselling."

I'd hard-pressed to think of why copyright could apply to a piece of electronic gadgetry which "does nothing." So why is eBay refusing to allow its sale?

Because DMCA is such an effective club.

Rod Keller, a Scientology critic, noticed that e-meter auctions were being taken down, and wrote eBay to ask why. The response was:

Hello,

These items are not prohibited due to their nature, but the Church of Scientology is giving us Notices of Infringement, which we are legally required to honor. These items are being ended for that reason.

Regards,

[...]
eBay Community Watch Supervisor

(Emphasis added.) That explanation, by the way, is a little facile: eBay is "legally required to honor" such notices if it wants to remain lawsuit-proof about the item. They would be well within their legal rights to leave the auctions up. More on this later.

When Mr. Keller expressed surprise at this, the next message went into a little more detail:

Hello,

There is a procedure under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act whereby someone who claims to be an owner of Intellectual property can send a notice sworn under penalty of perjury that an item is infringing. The internet provider must then remove the item. The seller of the item (not a third party) can request and fill out a counter notice. If he/she does so, the complaining party who filled out the original notice has a limited period of time to file suit, or the provider can go ahead and relist the item.

This is set up under the statute so that the interested parties will be the ones doing any litigating.

Regards,

eBay Customer Support

In response to my requests for more detail on exactly how the DMCA was being invoked by the CoS, an eBay representative promised that someone would get in touch with me. Unfortunately, I haven't heard from them by press time.

Here's what I think happened, based on the above -- feel free to follow along in the full text of the DMCA if you like.

The DMCA is an unusual regulation in that it principally protects service providers from litigation and then rigidly defines the steps they must follow to stay under its umbrella. It puts eBay in a position a little bit like Bart Simpson's, when Sideshow Bob announces:

"The following people will not be killed by me: Homer Simpson, Marge Simpson, Lisa Simpson, that little baby Simpson.... That is all."

Title II of the DMCA, otherwise known as the "Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act," is what seems to be relevant. It describes under what conditions a service provider is not liable "for infringement of copyright." My guess is that eBay is looking at section 202(c): "Information Residing On Systems Or Networks At Direction Of Users." The system is ebay.com; the users are the sellers; presumably the information is, in this case, the item being auctioned. Or the text and graphics used to describe the auction? I'm not sure.

Section 202(c)(1)(C) indicates that eBay will not be subject to liability as long as it, "upon notification of claimed infringement as described in paragraph (3), responds expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity."

Paragraph (3) describes the elements which must be present in a notification, including: "A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed."

Based on eBay's statements, the Church of Scientology has sworn under penalty of perjury that it has an "exclusive right" to copyright on the material that was posted in the auction.

To me, that seems obviously wrong. An e-meter is an electrical device, or a religious artifact, depending on how you look at it. Either way, it's sold to customers who may or may not be members of the Church. Once they've bought the items, they should be able to do with them what they wish, including reselling them to whoever they wish.

But to enjoy the protections of the DMCA, service providers must remove any material as soon as they're told it infringes on copyright. Once material has been challenged, the service provider must act "expeditiously" to remove it. Only when the material is gone can the accused user make a case to defend it.

The carrot for service providers becomes a stick for users.

Meanwhile, I'd like to see the statement that the Church of Scientology made, under penalty of perjury, that an auction of an e-meter infringes on their copyright in some way. Any spokespeople for the CoS reading this are welcome to contact me to discuss it.

But, as Declan McCullagh wrote in an unrelated DMCA story yesterday, we are moving toward a two-tier copyright system on the internet -- at least in this country. If you don't host your own content, the DMCA's censor-first, ask-questions-later mandate effectively strips you of your rights.

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eBay E-Meter Auctions Yanked

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You obviously know nothing about the COS. It is plain evil. Do a search on google or whatever and look into it. It will scare the shit out of you. It is not a religion but a cult. I fear that Slashdot will hear from the "church" based on certain comments that have been or will be posted. If someone posts certain material here the servers will be seized and there will be no news for nerds. I highly advise Slashdot not to post anything related to this "church." It is not worth it!!!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Hey, perhaps it's even simpler than that. Any /good/ hacker can get personal information off ebay about its members. Perhaps someone simply got the info, and threatened to release it if they didn't stop letting the e-meters be auctioned.

    -Anony mouse

    P.S. Mr Hubbard, sir, one could make your emeter with a PIC microcontroller networked to the internet so the main scientology center can see real time auditing! Consolidate all your auditor auditors, and save money! LOTS of money! I mean, huge, stinking WADS of money! Each PIC-E-METER would only be $100 to manufacture. Think of the cash you'll generate!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Scientology's Final Solution [idt.net]

    The article linked to contains referenced quotes where L Ron advocates concentration camps or quiet disposal for gays, and indeed a wide range of other people as well (like those who criticise scientology) whenever Scientology assumes its rightful place... I think you could accurately call this extremist.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Maybe something can be done about the equally crazy patents that have been accepted by the USPTO though. Citizens can nominate members of the US Patent Office Advisory committee but --- TODAY April 28th is THE LAST DAY!!!! Take a look at the LinuxToday article [linuxtoday.com] and its links.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I should be happy that this matter is keeping the clown busy - maybe he will leave me alone and let me sleep. However, I have to worry about the future well-being of myself and society at large. It is no surprise that the Scientologists want to control these devices. The clown is worried about any of his technology being exposed for what it is. He is especially guarded about his new tracking devices that don't rely on Iridium (he had to come up with these rather quick since learning of Iridium's approaching destruction). With Battlefield Earth being released soon, the clown knows that this is a critical time the plans he has for us all, and the availability of his "religious" electronic devices on Ebay would ruin everything for him. It is imperative that we try to buy some of these devices to reverse engineer them for our own uses, eg., a feedback device that would destroy the clown. Apparently most of you did not heed my advice to go see Ready to Rumble and it's anti-clown messages designed to undo any pro-clown Scientologists subliminal messages in Battlefield Earth, which I fear many of you will see (and begin suffering sleep deprivation soon afterwards). Please watch plenty of movies in the upcoming weeks starring our Savioress, the lovely Rose McGowan. I recommend Jawbreaker only if you have seen other Rose McGowan the Savioress's movies first (Devil in the Flesh is a good antidote to clown evil, or Scream). The reason is that the end of Jawbreaker has our Savioress's most powerful ever anti-clown scene, so powerful that you may actually become vulnerable to the clown. Her makeup runs down her face, making her "clownlike" while the school yells at her. However, it may backfire and cause you to see our Savioress as the clown (very bad). If this happens, just find a link on the web to her Howard Stern interview, where she informs listeners that the Cult Awareness Network is actually owned by Scientology and is utilized for tricking people into joining the Church of Scientology. This should bring you back away from the clown.

    By the way, someone, probably the clown, has been imitating my posts on Slashdot recently. I hope you have been able to tell these are attempts to trick you, especially the ones that contained links to sites irrelevant to my cause of warning you of the clown's dangers. Also, some readers commented that I should not post AC, but register and post under that name. However, I am not willing to put myself at such great risk from the clown because that would improve his ability to track me.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Speaking in my capacity as a mythical Scottish water-dwelling creature, I find it hard to understand what the fuss is about. I have had a good look at the circuit diagram in the E-meter patent and I am somewhat amazed that this thing ever got a patent in the first place. Perhaps patent law has changed since I went into hiding in Loch Ness, but the E-meter appears to be little more than a crude bridge, basic transistor amplifier connected to an analogue meter. In short, it is a device for measuring changes in resistance and (this is the important bit) the design is painfully obvious to anyone with average proficiency in electronics. Surely such a straightforward design should never have been granted a patent?

    I think the main reason people want to buy an E-meter on E-Bay is for use as a kitsch ornament, and I think it is this trivialisation of their religion that the Scientologists are worried about. I would make similar requests if E-Bay were to start selling some of those faked pictures of me on their website - I, the Loch Ness Monster, deserve better than to be humiliated by all those inaccurate hoax pictures of me. But I digress. This whole situation seems very confusing, and I think that the DMCA (combined with the inherent problems of patent law) has provided a means by which vendors can be legally obliged to removed items from sale, even when there is no common sense reason for them to do so.

    I am NOT a troll, I'm the Loch Ness Monster.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you don't host your own content, the DMCA's censor-first, ask-questions-later mandate effectively strips you of your rights.

    Seeing as how comments can be copyrighted by indivual posters, does this mean that /. itself could be held liable for publishing comments in a JonKatz book?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Ok guys, this is the final post. No more posting allowed in this story. Please watch the ./ frontpage for new stories to appear. In the meantime you may pour hot grits down your pants.

    Thank you.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Press Release --

    Today, Amazon.com declared itself a religion. "I don't know why we were using that stupid trademark and copyright infringement stuff" stated Jeff Bozos. "We are a religion now, and no one else can use our ideas. Selling books on the web is our holy sacrament, and only we can do this." Also announced was a name change: affiliates are now called "church outreach."

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Unfortunately, this is relatively recent Christian policy. The Holy Lie was a standard part of the Christian conversion toolkit for hundreds of years. The rational, if I recall, was that it was better for a member of the Church to risk a small sin by telling a lie than to allow a 'pagan' (scare quotes intentional) to fall into eternal damnation, a wonderfully recursive sort of self-interest. In the aspect you're discussing, Scientology bears an uncomfortable similarity to old time religion.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    A little late to be posting, but...
    Looking at the search see I see older auctions of e-meters that are not pulled. It looks like the e-meter that was pulled [ebay.com] (there only seems to be one) does not work.
    All e-meters that are used by the Church are inspected and repaired/recalibrated every two years and are re-certified for use. If the e-meter does not work they probably don't want it staying on the market.
    If I were them, I would have simply bought it.
  • To me I see no difference between Scientologists and Satanists. They are both whacked out extremists that will do anything to make someone beleive whatever garbage they themselves have been brainwashed by.

    Yeah, yeah, freedom of religion.. To me the "E-Meter" is nothing more then a Ouji Board.
  • I just see those two at each end of the spectrum. I am a Christian myself. It's like the far extreme christian right or the far extreme liberal left, both do nothing but harm and raise alot of hoopla. (I myself am a democrat but have to look at Jesse Jackson as an imbicle at times).

    I guess what I am trying to say is that on certain political/religous views you have to give a little and take a little and I certainly find it either silly or unproductive to be or listen to someone who is either all the way at point A or all the way at point B.
  • Want to see something funny on eBay? Do a search for "Elian". Now, I can understand eBay yanking the couple of entries for Elian himself. But what I don't quite understand is the removal of all the ones mentioning Clinton, Reno, etc also. Last night I did find one cute thing, someone has pasted Clinton/Reno's head onto some of the famous pictures and put them into a button. Clinton with the gun pointed at the kid, and Reno carrying him into the van. Those seem like just cute political pins. Now why would eBay be in such a rush to kill those auctions?
  • I had occaision to visit their headquarters in Clerwater around '85 because my girlfriend was working with (and for) a Scientologist, and all I can say is: Be afraid, be very afraid.....
  • Last I checked, the CoS jealously guards its E-meters (and anything else that might allow any form of insight into them to an outsider, for that matter). I'll leave the question as to why they might do that up to you; I have my own ideas (hint: they reflect very poorly on the CoS).

    But either way, since the CoS is normally so secretive about these things, it's probably relatively safe to assume that any E-meters which found their way to Ebay were stolen (or at least could have been considered stolen by the CoS). It's not IP theft by any means, but if the CoS says they're stolen, then Ebay does have to stop the auctions, just as if the item in question had been a stolen car.

    By the way, any word on when the patents on these things expire? I can't wait to see some non-Scientologist (ex-Scientologist, perhaps?) start building them and selling them; then not even the CoS could pull something like this.
  • These are the same mofos who shut down Anon.Penet.Fi. Godless freaks!
  • To me I see no difference between Scientologists and Satanists. They are both whacked out extremists that will do anything to make someone beleive whatever garbage they themselves have been brainwashed by.

    Just like your average Linux user.

    I've been able to avoid that. I use Macs.

    (If you can't see the humour in this, dont bother replying...)
  • Democrats are small-l liberals? I always thought that the Democratic Party was more equivalent to the canadian Liberal Party, just about in the center of the whole spectrum (despite the name).

    Not a flame, replies welcome.
  • I suppose the Travoltanistas have the name of the E-meter copyrighted (bet they wish they'd thought of i-Meter back then as well), maybe even the "look and feel", but can they have a copyright on the device itself? How can they sell it to somebody and then turn around who knows how long afterwards and say "We forbid you to resell it"?

    Isn't that sort of like General Motors saying not only can you not sell something you made by calling it a Chevrolet, but, if you own a real Chevy, you can't stick that out on your used car lot either. Come to think of it, they'd probably like a law that says you can only trade in your old GM vehicle on a new one. But at least they aren't worried that someone will reverse engineer a Caprice and discover that it's not really an automobile (Okay, look, the Vega was a long time ago, okay?).

  • Good Lord, we cant have these things out in the general public! Someone might take one apart and find out that its only a galvanic resistance tester, and not some Tool of God

    -=Bob

  • "The Great Fuzzy" aka "The furball of Cthulu"

    And please, let's not forget:

    HELLO CTHULHU [wisc.edu]
  • Sadly, the E-meters aren't theirs. They out-and-out sold them to people. No NDA, no contracts, no nothing. In fact, you can, ATM, still buy one from them, at a really marked up price. I'm assuming the ones on eBay are simply undercutting their profit.

    -David T. C.
  • Hey, stop insulting the nice Satanists.

    -David T. C.
  • Riiiight....good shot, but I seriously doubt you have anything to do with CoS. I doubt they would admit 'spinning facts' or 'taking advantage of the US Legal system'.

    I rate this: -0.5 Unbelievable Troll.

    -David T. C.

  • To be more exact, the swedish constitution has a principle of publicity (bad translation perhaps), that states that all documents handled by swedish authorities are public, except those that are explicitly made secret. And there are strict rules for which documents may be made secret.

    A guy called Zenon Panoussis made copies of the CoS "bible", and delivered it to a lot of swedish authorities. Any document sent to a swedish authority is public. Thus, anyone could, by reffering to the principle of publicity, read a copy of the CoS bible in any of the offices to which he sent copies.

    After this, all kinds of weird things happened to Zenon. Among many other things, his apartment was apparently being monitored 24 hours a day. And he was not just being paranoid.

    If you're interested, there is a rather complete story here [chalmers.se], but it does not cover the latest developments when the swedish government made a decision to, in this particular case, disregard the principle of publicity and make the Cos "bible" secret without cause. Strictly in conflict with the swedish constitution.

  • Any guesses as to how long it will take for Co$ to sue Slashdot and everyone who posted a remotely negative message about them? (Or, worse, that they send Scientologists to flood the site with pro-Co$ messages?) You thought hot grits were bad... -j
  • I think the difference is that Christianity (being a real religion, whether you agree with its tenets or not) has to take anybody, but Scientology (a religion concocted on a bet) would rather have rich loopy movie stars. Apparently it's pretty easy to fool them all of the time :)

  • If Jon Katz is the shining example of their social coverage, I really would hate to see their choice of an attorney.
  • To me I see no difference between Scientologists and Satanists. They are both whacked out extremists that will do anything to make someone beleive whatever garbage they themselves have been brainwashed by.

    Not to start a religeous war, but --- hey, wait a minute. Oh what the fuck, let's have a religeous war! I mean, a really good old fashioned drag-out no-holds-barred religeous war. I think we should invite some Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, and Hindus into into the mix too, just for giggles. Then we'll all just start insulting each other religeons. It'll be great! Yeah, we'll call it Crusades II and put it on Pay Per View.

    I think all mysticism is bullshit. All of it. Every last bit. 75 million-year-old aliens possessing humans, natural spirits living in trees, people getting up and walking around after being murdered by Romans, all of it. So, when I look at a religeon, I think to myself, "What do you have left here, when you strip away the mystic bullshit?"

    Scientology sucks. Satanism sucks. (I won't mention my opinion of other religeons, but it shouldn't be too hard to extrapolate.) The difference is that if I ignore Satanist mysticism, the stuff that is left doesn't look too bad. There's at least some sense of ethics and fairness. When I do the same with Scientology, it's still shit. Scientology is the only "religeon" I've ever heard of that actually has absolutely no salvage value whatsoever.

    So, IMHO, by equating the two, you have just insulted Satanists. Now, actually, that is a good thing in our Crusades II Pay Per View special. That means you score a point and Satanism loses a point. You're ahead! Well done, Nick! But watch your back. I think the Buddhist Extremists [slashdot.org] might be about to try something against you.


    ---
  • There were several sites with parodies of the whole elian thing (including the infamous wazzzzup!!! thing which imho was hilarious.) you can find mirrors here [geocities.com]

    apparantly the associated press has made a concerted effort to "defend their intellectual property rights" by threatening legal action against anyone and everyone they could find who reproduced or altered these images for profit or for fun.
  • It seems to me the DMCA should *only* apply to the US of A territory.

    Groups like the World Trade Organization [wto.org] are working hard to make sure that all the immoral, unjust and just plain stupid laws of the USA are enforceable around the world. Conversely, they are working to make sure that all of the immoral, unjust and stupid laws of the rest of the world are enforceable in the USA, too. Their vision is a unified world government, where they can exert their power in broad strokes without fear of local disturbances.

    While I do think there is some merit in a "single nation of humanity", I think the harm would outweigh the benefits.

    At the risk of sounding like Katz, we're fighting a war here. On our side (if you're reading this, you're almost certainly on the same side I'm on) we have consumers, individuals, artists, programmers, writers, poets, musicians -- in other words, people. We're small, and singly we're weak, but we have the advantages of creativity and cleverness, adaptability, flexibility and speed. We also have greater numbers, although most people are asleep. On the other side we have the multinational corporate giants. They're fucking huge. But they're slow and stupid, rigid, and static.

    In this war, the terrain is the set of legal jurisdictions in which we (collectively) live. It's like a jungle, or a badlands, full of uneven terrain, obstacles and brush. People like us can dodge through it and evade the giants. The corporate behemoths get stuck in the sinkholes.

    But the behemoths can flatten the terrain, slowly. They have enough power (money) to change laws in their favor. Wherever they stomp, the land becomes slightly more level, and the vegetation is ground into pulp. Soon, we'll have nowhere to hide, and the tanks will roll over us and crush us.

    Question everything. Never take anything at face value. The world is full of lies. Don't believe what the media tell you. Don't believe what slashdot tells you. Don't believe what I tell you. Make up your own mind, and do what is right.

  • To me I see no difference between Scientologists and Satanists.

    Read both. In my opinion, you've just insulted the Satanists by comparing them to the Scientologists.

  • to do what the government-megacorporation alliance tells you to do. Really, in the US you have no rights whatsoever, which fact is becoming more and more obvious as blatantly immoral - and probably illegal - legislation like the DMCA and UCITA are being passed by people who ought to know that they aren't accurately representing their constituents. And everybody knows this. For that matter, everybody knows you have no rights anywhere else either. All that's left is to sit back and wait for the revolution. Here's to hoping that what we get out of it will be better than what we've got now.
  • And what exactly do you suggest? Writing letters, which will be ignored? Protesting in the streets so they can lock us up or run over us with tanks? Voting for different politicians, which all become the same once in office? There's no stopping the system. You can try, but you can't succeed. The only solution is to destroy the system. As long as the power rests where it currently does, there is no way constant vigilance and alertness will help; the time for that is long past.

    There's a theory of economics which holds that prolonged periods of peace and stability serve to entrench special interests in positions of power, and that regulatory efforts intended to prevent this are "captured" by the very interests they are supposed to oversee. It happens. It's happened here. The only way it will be stopped is by a mass uprising, which will inevitably be violent and bloody. Power is rarely given up voluntarily. The only interesting part left is trying to predict exactly when and where it will start.

    And then the process starts over...

  • I've never been much of a religious guy, but recently I've an inkling for some jihad. Specifically, I would pay great sums of money to see the Church of the SubGenius [subgenius.com] battle the Church of Scientology [scientology.org]! It would be an awesome apocalypse.

    And when I said battle, I meant it. My money's on the Slackers--the followers of Bob. First of all Bob is just more powerful than Xenu (look at the pipe; does Xenu have a pipe?). Second, take a look at last year's apocalypse [subgenius.com]! Find me a Scientologist who can win this [subgenius.com]--the Church of the SubGenius have been practicing since X-Day 1996.

    An Introduction to Slack [subgenius.com]

    --

  • Can you give a link to the secondary patent? What does the secondary patent cover? It can't cover the same thing the first patent covers, right? I'd really like to know more about this. I figured the patent was history already, but I hadn't heard of the secondary patent.

  • I mean, isn't in a copyright owner's privalige to not allow their copyrighted work to be used to disparage them?

    NO. They have no right to "not allow their copyrighted work to be used to disparage them". If someone writes a book, I buy the book at Barnes and Noble, and then use the book as the basis for a review saying how terrible the book is, that's my right of free speech under the Constitution. It's like reviewing any other product out there (aside from software, where sometimes the EULA explicitly forbids such things...though I don't know about the legality of such clauses as IANAL) If they don't want people to be able to criticize their work, they shouldn't release it.

    IANAL, but they should have SOME right to prevent the distribution of copyrighted images and terms, and trademarked names

    That's not what's going on here. What's being distributed isn't copies of copyrighted material. It's like if I buy a car. I can auction off any car I buy on EBay, without having to have the permission of the car company. Now, I can't go and copy their (copyrighted) designs/logos they have on the car; but I can sure as hell sell a car they made with said logos on it to whoever I want. The selling of the "e-meter", a physical device which was *sold* to the person auctioning it off, is perfectly legal. The Church of Scientology is just trying to use the threat of litigation (and one doesn't have to be a lawyer to know they'd likely have the suit thrown out in a heartbeat) to silence critics (who, naturally, point to the e-meter as being rather ridiculous as a "lie detector")

    Now, the DCMA's loophole, designed to protect copyright owners, is clearly being exploited. The Church of Scientology is well known for alledgedly filing motions that won't be upheld merely to by time or harass the victim. Indeed, this is standard legal manuevering.

    I would like to see more of this with specifics as to the auctions, before we just bash on the Church of Scientology. If this is using a loophole for harassment, time for a letter writing campaign, getting the law fixed would be easy in that case. The government officials are not terribly thrilled with the CoS, and if it is being used to harass law abiding citizens, it will no doubt be fixed.


    Thing is, it's clearly not a loophole in the law. It's the CoS pretending such a loophole exists and saying "oh we'll sue you if you don't stop auctioning these". So it's not something the lawmakers can fix; it's merely the CoS using the threat of litigation as a tool of harassment (which as you noted, is nothing new for them). This isn't something that can really be fixed by changing the DMCA.

    And really, even if the auctions contained disparaging remarks by the individual selling the devices, that still has no legal effect on the auction itself. If the individual overstepped themselves and posted defamatory remarks, then it would be possible for the CoS to sue for defamation/libel. But since the CoS isn't doing that, I think it's safe to assume that the auctions contained no such language (and EBay itself would probably pull any such postings unilaterally, anyhow)
  • I am a law student who has studied copyright, but I don't pretend to be a lawyer yet...

    I've looked through all of these messages here, but I've seen no one suggest the obvious: use the DMCA and send Ebay a counternotice.

    The procedure for a counternotice is in the DMCA / Copyright Act at 17 U.S.C. section 512(g)(3). It must include the following:
    (A) A physical or electronic signature [of yours].
    (B) Identification of the material that has been removed ... and the location of the material.
    (C) A statement under penalty of perjury that the subscriber has a good faith belief that the material was removed or disabled as a result of mistake or misidentification of the material. (Me: you would base your faith on the first sale doctrine discussed elsewhere).
    (D) [Your] name, address, and telephone number, and a statement that [you consent] to the jurisdiction of Federal District Court for the judicial district in which the address is located...

    Of course, this would force the CoS to sue you in court or leave you alone. In my non-expert opinion, they would fail miserably but you may not want to risk them actually trying to sue you.
  • They have already been going after anti-CoS sites. Your only chance of having an anti-CoS site nowdays is if and only if it is in a country that forbids CoS itself - Germany or France (someone quote other countries please).

    Considering in the second case that this also means complying with language purity laws this means only Germany.

    Otherwise you are permanently under litigation threat.

  • *WARNING* Random pot shot against CoS!

    As the CoS doesn't seem to be growing (if it is, it isn't very fast, or the CoS would be a major religion by now)...

    Gee, with the tons of stupid people out there, you'de think CoS would be overtaking Christianity soon. Well, I guess you can't fool all the people all the time.

    Bad Mojo [rps.net]
  • I'll swear, under penality of perjury, that I claim to be an owner of IP. I won't swear that I *AM* the owner of said, IP.


    Bad Mojo [rps.net]
  • The big difference is that Scientologists can be dangerous.

    Satanists may have a strange set of beliefs, but except for the mentally ill wannabes they don't hurt people. They don't starve their members. They don't make people slaves.

    Satanists (the 1st church kind) love to bother you. If you're disturbed by them, then they've accomplished their goal.

    Scientologists just want your money. The brainwashing is incidental to getting at your money.

    LK
  • >OMIGOD, Subgenius is a JOKE religion. It's FAKE. Either you are being facetious or are somekinda dense.

    Hehe yeah... The diffrence between Subgenius and Scientology is the Scientologists take it sereously...

    I once sat down and drafted up my own little religion... "The Great Fuzzy" aka "The furball of Cthulu"
    He has one commandment "Do not believe in me.." accually for those who believe in him he has a second comandment "Leave me alone"

    The path to enlightenment is blasphamy...
    Be blasphamus and you shall become a saint :)
    Anyway I put the joke aside and got on with my life :)
  • Just a legal question here... It seems to me the DMCA should *only* apply to the US of A territory. If you're not American and your server is not in the US of A, the DMCA should normally take its way home (/dev/null).

    What's whith those American laws being appliable everywhere? As far as I know, American laws ain't legal/enforcible anywhere else than the US of A. Hey, what would the Americans say if I came to the US of A and try to enforce a Swiss law? They'd laugh at me. Well, I laugh at the DMCA!!!

    Seems to me the Yankees are once again doing their imperialist shit over the rest of the world. Sorry folks, but that ain't gonna work.

    And I *know* eBay is based in the US of A. Now, feel free to flame me, for what I care...

    max

  • Well... if that's the case, then my argument is totally irrelevant ;)
  • Regardless of how 'evil' the CoS is, and all their other exploits...
    If the E-meter was clearly CoS property from the beginning, and not the property of the person auctioning it, or rather, if the CoS has *never* transfered ownership of an e-meter to someone else, and can demonstrate that they *always* own them, then nobody has a right to sell them. Period.
  • What are you asking?
    You say you know that ebay is in the US. Therefore, ebay must obey US law. It doesn't matter if those doing the selling are outside US. According to the US Justice system, you *can* break US law even when not on US soil. They simply have no jurusdiction to prosecute you.
    Look at the people running online casinos from the carribean. They have LEGAL gambling licenses from the government where their servers are, and al business is run from their, yet, some have been charged by the FBI for 'illegal bookmaking', and if they re-enter the US, they will be arrested.
  • talking about something. It's still merely opinion until it's gone through a court and come out of the other end.
  • You missed the point. O'Reilly owns the copyright to their books. But the first sale doctrine prevents them from exerting any control over those books once they're sold. IOW, you can buy books by the hundreds from O'Reilly and resell them on eBay, and copyright law says that's okay.

    (And, no, the DMCA does not mean any of those things. Please try to understand the issues before forming opinions. IMHO, the DMCA is a Bad Thing, but not for those reasons. We share the same cause, but your ignorant ranting doesn't help.)
  • Go look up "Wheatstone Bridge" in any first year electronics text.

    Looks like the "Bridge to Total Freedom" is a "bridge" after all.

  • From the /. story (i.e. right here on /., not on the linked page):
    There is a procedure under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act whereby someone who claims to be an owner of Intellectual property can send
    a notice sworn under penalty of perjury that an item is infringing. [Emphasis added

    That is, IF you send in such a notice, you are opening yourself up to a charge of perjury. It would be nice if some brave soul(s) tried to do that, but they'd have to be quite brave.

  • Someone needs to start a slashdot-like website for lawyers called: (IAALaIMHO.org) I Am A Lawyer and In My Humble Opinion dot Org

    You mean like this one?

    http://www.prarielaw.com/ [prarielaw.com]
  • I meant to use this one, though that other one fits as well. This one is more slashdot-ish oriented.

    http://eon.law.harvard.edu/openlaw/ [harvard.edu]
  • Is that funny? To me, it seems just accurate/informative [altavista.com].
  • I feel sorry for the dude who is not making some money on those things

    Whilst I agree, I don't think that's the worse consequence of their sale being inhibited. It's vital that this kind of machine is publically available, so that members of the public can make an informed decision as to whether an e-meter could be effective for psychoanalysis or whether it is just a rheostat. If non-scientologists can't get hold of e-meters, it's harder to test the claims the "Church of Scientology" makes.
  • Hey, I can quote a few religious books with the best of them. Do you want me to start quoting from the "bad" parts of the Bible? Visit one of the religion recovery groups on usenet and try and make that statement again without knowing you'd be lying.

    I can only speak from my personal experience. When I was 8, a Christian "evangelist" persuaded my (non-Christian) parents to send me for "lessons". She then convinced me that my parents were evil and would go to hell. I was quite shaken up till a few months after I finally stopped going.
    Now I'm not going to argue about whether what she was saying was true or not. It wasn't the right thing to tell me when I was 8, because it left me with a terror which I had no way of handling at the time.


    However, my point is that I can safely live openly today as a non-Christian without fear of retribution. And most mainstream Christians will not try to prevent "heretics" from peacefully coexisting in society (in the UK, anyway). If I'd had a Scientologist indoctrinating me, and then left the Church of Scientology, I would probably have suffered intimidation and quite possibly violence. And that's the difference.


    [Scientology is] a cult, and trying to stay around long enough to be taken seriously and have the lawyers to make it stick...from Cult to religion; it happens all the time.

    I quite agree. If I was talking about Christianity as it was practised in the 14th Century in Europe, I would call it an extremist cult without hesitation. If Scientology ever matures to be as inoffensive as modern, mainstream Christianity, I will stop calling it a cult. Until then, it must be fought tooth and nail.

  • You state your opinion as fact - that Scientology is not a religion. [...] You are far more frightening in the narrowness of your vision than Scientology is.

    Hmmm, I think I'm feeding a troll, but I'll bite just in case.


    Scientology is a "fake religion" in the sense that the guy who set it up and the people running it now almost certainly didn't and don't believe what they tell people. A lot of what the CoS says about him is a pack of lies.

    Convictions total about seven and they are for "stealing xerox paper" or some other crap.

    Lisa McPherson was covered in bruises and left dehydrated for days - in a Scientology "Hotel"! See photos of the autopsy [lisamcpherson.org] on the Web if you like.

  • by Hard_Code (49548)
    Damnit...does this mean I can't sell my nauseating multicolored electronic glowing christ window ornament?
  • This would sit better with me if the Church of Subgenius did not require regular donations so that I may be saved from the Xists. To quote Bob: "You'd PAY to know what you REALLY think.", Dobbs, 1961 Also, one of the Subgenii tenets is that of killing and/or endlessly torturing all of our enemies once the Xists come, so his comment seems to implicitly include me, which I can't say I'm particularly fond of.
    OMIGOD, Subgenius is a JOKE religion. It's FAKE. Either you are being facetious or are somekinda dense.
  • You can find most of the CoS items being sold on EBay here [ebay.com].

    There are many other items there that CoS seems to use to make money from... why don't they go after those too?
    --

  • E-Bay should wake up - it's not a copy - the DCMA is intended to prohibit COPYING which is what a copyright gives you controll over (a photo of a physical item on an ebay page is not a copy - it's a depiction of the original).

    Sadly Scientology has more lawyers than god (or the devil) and are used to cowering people inro submission

  • What qualifies as hosting your own content? I.E. Say I run a web server on my DSL line (which is true), and I do something like host a mirror of controversial material. Who is the service provider in this case, me or my ISP? It would seem to me I am, and that my ISP wouldn't come into the picture, because my agreement with them says it's my line and I can do with it what I want, and anything that says 'lawyer' on it will be forwarded in my general direction.

    I've been wondering about this for a while. In my case the server is co-located at an ISP. I pay for an ethernet connection to the network but still completely own the box.

    If they can hold an ISP responsible for providing connectivity to someone then no one is safe. If someone can clarify this it would be appreciated.

    I'm also curious about the "under penalty of perjury" thing. What is the penalty for perjury for a corporation, church, or government? Does someone get sent to jail? Or does the organization get fined into bankruptcy? What is the penalty for an individual? Do individuals get fined a percentage of their annual income? I just want to know what incentives large organizations have to avoid abusing the DMCA.

    numb
  • Under any normal circumstances, any religion started by a bad scifi writer that believes we were planted here on Earth by an alien race and that we will one day be collected by that race and taken to our real home planet would have absolutely no credibility whatsoever. Unfortunately said religion is supported by numerous Hollywood actors. Hollywood actors have money. Now the church of Scientology has money. Now they have credibility. *sigh*

  • is that if any schmuck can buy on of these dodads, why the hell should the Church of Scientology care if one's getting sold on eBay? OTOH I've heard that these guys are big on the strongarm intimidation stuff to get their way, so maybe this was just a "proof of concept" thing. Maybe next they'll go after anti-CoS websites? Or booksellers with anti-CoS books? Hey, the sky's the limit people!
  • I'd like to start a religion. That's where the money is. -- L. Ron Hubbard, 1949.

    For this reason, calling them "extremist" is totally, utterly different from using the word to describe anyone who disagrees with your religious beliefs.


    This would sit better with me if the Church of Subgenius did not require regular donations so that I may be saved from the Xists. To quote Bob:

    "You'd PAY to know what you REALLY think.", Dobbs, 1961

    Also, one of the Subgenii tenets is that of killing and/or endlessly torturing all of our enemies once the Xists come, so his comment seems to implicitly include me, which I can't say I'm particularly fond of.

    And no, I don't like the Church of Scientology much either. OTOH Lavey (founder of the Church of Satan) had some pretty interesting (though at times admittedly strange) ideas. [This comment is probably going to make me quite unpopular in this thread, methinks].
  • I'd agree with you there, the ideas of the Church of Satan are fascinating and IMHO a lot closer to human nature than most religions I've encountered. And it's not really a "religion" in the traditional sense - it's more about the self than anything else.

    For more info read his book The Satanic Bible


    Yes, I know. There's a copy sitting on the coffee table, along with various Subgenius literature. Makes for great conversation when guests come over. :)
  • To me I see no difference between Scientologists and Satanists. They are both whacked out extremists that will do anything to make someone beleive whatever garbage they themselves have been brainwashed by.

    As someone who is neither, I am highly offended by your comment. Am I, as a Subgenius, also a "whacked out extremist"? What about my Christian friends? Have we all been brainwashed with garbage? What about atheists/agnostics? Let me guess: anyone who does not conform to your particular religious beliefs is branded an extremist idiot without a second thought.
  • This [malice.org] is the funniest article about CoS i have yet read. After being a Guardian Angel the Authors joins the Celebrity Center in Los Angeles posing as German Rockstar from the Band Nein!Nein!Nein!.
  • Other countries including Greece [xenu.net] and Sweden (also somewhere at xenu.net [xenu.net])
  • OTOH Lavey (founder of the Church of Satan) had some pretty interesting (though at times admittedly strange) ideas. [This comment is probably going to make me quite unpopular in this thread, methinks].

    Well, not in my case anyway :) I'd agree with you there, the ideas of the Church of Satan are fascinating and IMHO a lot closer to human nature than most religions I've encountered. And it's not really a "religion" in the traditional sense - it's more about the self than anything else. The central idea is that there is no entity called "Satan" or whatever - it is an integral part of every person and should be accepted. Anton La Vey has got some great ideas and shouldn't be dismissed for his use of the word Satan.

    For more info read his book The Satanic Bible [amazon.com], and the official site is here [churchofsatan.com].

  • The "./ IANAL crowd" is the most important group to listen to because they represent a general morality, not a legal interpertation.

    Okay, that's a very interesting interpretation of the IANAL crowd, and one worth bearing in mind whenever you read such a post. However, the thing is that often they don't seem to realise this themselves, and get caught up in poor legalese. This is what some more expert opinion would alleviate. Once there are some facts available, informed discussion, which is much more productive, can take place.

    The law is only right when the majority supports it, and the lawyers and music industry are far from a majority.

    But unfortunately, change is slow, and we have to deal with the law as it stands, which means that lawyers are a necessary evil. And they might be minorities, but they're very vocal and influential ones in America, whereas the voice of reason is much less heard by those in power.

  • It seems like CoS is upto its usual tactics of intimidation again. I still remember the days of the Fishmann avidavit and the stirr that it caused. :-) I don't like them at all, but in this case I wonder if it is worth to start a religious war about. The devices that they have patented, are pretty well known and the schematics can be found in the IBM-patent database, so the information is freely available. I am not an electrical engineer, but the schematics probably let you build one yourself.

    I feel sorry for the dude who is not making some money on those things, though he could do what it sais in the ebay reply and go to court over it. But, why would he? He can still advertise it in newspapers etc.

    The only thing this shows is, as Declan McCullagh commented, that the DMCA is flawed and that it needs reparations, but we knew that allready. (didn't we?) :-)
  • Ebay isn't going to risk getting into trouble over a few measly auctions, be they legal or not. Scientology is very good at causing great deals of trouble without any sort of legal justification. It's as simple as that.
  • Isn't in a copyright owner's privalige to not allow their copyrighted work to be used to disparage them? IANAL, but they should have SOME right to prevent the distribution of copyrighted images and terms, and trademarked names.
    I'm going to assume you meant "isn't it" where you said "isn't in". If you didn't, disregard this post.

    And the answer is, OF COURSE NOT!! Is it in a copyright holder's privilege to CENSOR OPPOSING VIEWPOINTS? ARG!! The primary purpose of fair use is to PREVENT copyright holders from using copyright to prevent criticism -- clearly a valid principle. Scientology has, interestingly enough, repeatedly used "intellectual property" laws, particularly trade secret law, and others to prevent criticism. The EFF [eff.org] has a whole section [eff.org] on that matter.

    The entire purpose of copyright is, in fact, to encourage the creation of new works. Allowing authors to use copyright to *prevent* the creation of new works on the basis that they are critical is, frankly, absurd. Copyright law recognizes that it is absurd, but copyright law doesn't work how it is written -- the threat of a suit, no matter how little merit it actually has, is enough for a large company or organization to get its way most of the time. Both against the little guys, because they can't fight it, and against the big guys, because they don't want to.

    (Yet another example of the countless annoyances and pitfalls of "intellectual property" restrictions in general.)

  • Say I run a web server on my DSL line (which is true), and I do something like host a mirror of controversial material [wyvern.org]. Who is the service provider in this case, me or my ISP?

    I am the service provider. Come and get me. [underground.ath.cx] The Associated Pricks can take the DMCA and shove it. Hey Elian! Wassup! [underground.ath.cx]

    The DMCA must die. Now. Do not let them kill fair use!
    ---

  • What's funny is that I'm used to 'CoS' meaning 'Church of Satan'. I think it gives the right connotations, but tarnishes the image of Satanism.

    ---
    script-fu: hash bang slash bin bash
  • Quoth the poster (referring to a hypothetical O'Reilly suit over resale of Programming Perl):
    They own the IP. Demanding that E-bay stop selling books which contain their IP is no different, in principle, from MS demanding that Ebay stop selling CDs which contain their IP.
    Hmm. Once again we seem to hit the problem that effectively indistinguishable intellectual "property" obeys different laws depending on its (essentially irrelevant) packaging. Can Microsoft sue me for selling my copy of Windows 98? What if the purchaser never installs it? When is the license violated?

    For that matter, this makes clear why the nefarious Powers are trying to rush UCITA past state legislatures before anyone gets a chance to understand it: They are deathly afraid that the courts will wake up and recognize that the restrictive licenses are illegitimate. In other words, perhaps the Windows 98 CD is like a book and thus the doctrine of First Sale applies: Once I've bought it, I can resell it for whatever price I choose, and MS loses all control over its further distribution.

    The full implication of this would be staggering ... and, I think, beneficial.

  • This isn't strictly on-topic but I guess it's tangential. The poster does a reasonable job with the rent-v-sell thingy, but makes the algebraic statement:
    the company produces Q* (where Q* = Q1 + (Q2 - Q1)) and rents Q1 of them in term 1, and Q2 in term 2.
    Unless you love LISP, that setence has too many parenthesis for comfort :) but what I want to focus on is the definition of Q*:
    Q* = Q1 + (Q2 - Q1)
    Er, doesn't that imply Q* = Q2 identifically? After all, you're adding and subtracting Q1, so by rearranging terms, we'd have
    Q* = (Q2 - Q1) + Q1 = Q2 + (-Q1+Q1) = Q2 + 0 = Q2
    Am I missing something?
  • >If you're willing to open yourself up to charges of perjury, feel free.

    Not necessarily. My bet is that the CoS has not opened itself up to perjury in this way - the letter will threaten legal action rather than make a non-vague legal claim, and E-bay will act on it because E-bay couldn't care less about losing one sale in a million - it's easier than running even a small risk of legal proceedings. Like the case of ISPs in the UK - they _know_ they could win the court case if it came to court, but it's easier to just pull the thing.

    Is there any way we could get a copy of the CoS letter to E-bay? Get a free lesson from the Pro's? :-)
  • With respect to eBay suing the Church of Scientology for malicious prosecution, they do not necessarily have a good case. In fact, right now, they do not have a case. Here is the chain of events that would have to happen prior to eBay being awarded damages against the Scientologists: 1. eBay tells the Church to bug off (instead of caving in like they did). 2. The Church sues eBay. They'll sue not just under the DCMA, but also anything else that they can thing of, such as the aformentioned UTICA (which, granted, I'm not familar with at all), the common law tort of conversion (alleging some sort of continued ownership interest in the object), and whatever else their attorneys can make up. 3. The Church goes down in flames, and their case is dismissed by the judge at the demurrer stage, which means the judge would determine that even if all of the facts alleged by the Church were true, the Church still wouldn't have a case. 4. Then, eBay sues the Church for malicious prosecution. If eBay can prove that the Church didn't have a snowball's chance in Hell of a case, then they can win. Ordinarily, the damages for malicious prosecution amount to attorney fees and costs (essentially everything shelled out by eBay defending themselves). Punitive damages are awardable, but only if the court finds that the actions of the Churce were oppressive, willful, wanton, etc. While malicious prosection is certainly malicious enough, punitive damages are not required to be awarded here. eBay winning the lawsuit filed by the Church after a trial is probably enough of a showing that the Church had a good enough case that they're acts were not a malicious abuse of legal process. For eBay to prevail in their malicious prosecution cause of action, the court would have to dismiss the Church's case, either at the demurrer stage, or after the church presents their case at trial. David A. Brown Now I get to go back to studying for the Bar Exam.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 28, 2000 @01:03AM (#1105444)
    of harassing people. For example, do a netsearch for "scientology harassment alt.religion.scientology" and you'll find lots of information about them spamming this newsgroup to destory any legitimate communication. They do this because it's mostly critical of the "religion". There are many other cases of Scientologists harassing people, and they are one of the groups that really make me mad.
  • by Gregg M (2076) on Friday April 28, 2000 @01:26AM (#1105445) Homepage
    Here's another one for sale [ebay.com].

    Get it quick!

  • by wesmills (18791) on Friday April 28, 2000 @02:41AM (#1105446) Homepage
    But, as Declan McCullagh wrote in an unrelated DMCA story yesterday, we are moving toward a two-tier copyright system on the internet -- at least in this country. If you don't host your own content, the DMCA's censor-first, ask-questions-later mandate effectively strips you of your rights.

    What qualifies as hosting your own content? I.E. Say I run a web server on my DSL line (which is true), and I do something like host a mirror of controversial material [wyvern.org]. Who is the service provider in this case, me or my ISP? It would seem to me I am, and that my ISP wouldn't come into the picture, because my agreement with them says it's my line and I can do with it what I want, and anything that says 'lawyer' on it will be forwarded in my general direction.

    So, in short, is the content provider the person/entity who runs the web site or server or wherever you're accessing the information from?

    --------------------

  • Warning: Off topic post

    After following that link, I went to http://search.ebay.com [ebay.com] to do a different search, and stumbled upon the default Apache home page.

    Very handy. Now I can delete all that Apache documentation from my own server, and just link to http://search.ebay.com/manual/index.html [ebay.com] instead!

    Boy, with this level of sophisticated system administration, it's hard to believe eBay has a history of downtime.

  • by alexhmit01 (104757) on Friday April 28, 2000 @01:10AM (#1105448)
    Clearly, the electronic device is sold to users and can be resold. Even if it is licensed, arguing non-transferability would probably fail. Software non-transferability makes sense in some cases (Partition Magic... I mean, just not being able to use two copies at once is meaningless) but I think that trying to apply it to hardware would fail. I mean, copyright prevents copying, but that would be an interesting lawsuit.

    The Church of Scientology no doubt has multiple copyrights on images, terms (well, trademarks), statements, etc. If the pictures were taken by the owner but intentionally designed to looks like official photos, that may also be a copyright violation.

    Now, the Church clearly doesn't have a legal leg to stand on to prevent sales (and if they sell it anyway, why would they, I mean, the resale market through E-bay won't really effect their bottom line to the extent legal fees will), but they can probably protect certain terms.

    Especially if the listings are critical of the church. I mean, isn't in a copyright owner's privalige to not allow their copyrighted work to be used to disparage them? IANAL, but they should have SOME right to prevent the distribution of copyrighted images and terms, and trademarked names.

    Now, the DCMA's loophole, designed to protect copyright owners, is clearly being exploited. The Church of Scientology is well known for alledgedly filing motions that won't be upheld merely to by time or harass the victim. Indeed, this is standard legal manuevering.

    I would like to see more of this with specifics as to the auctions, before we just bash on the Church of Scientology. If this is using a loophole for harassment, time for a letter writing campaign, getting the law fixed would be easy in that case. The government officials are not terribly thrilled with the CoS, and if it is being used to harass law abiding citizens, it will no doubt be fixed.

    Now, I have as low an opinion of the CoS as the rest of the people here. HOWEVER, that does not make them guilty in this case. Indeed, I am willing to grant them significant breadth of actions as a religious organization, so I want to see facts before I attack them.

    Alex
  • by burris (122191) on Friday April 28, 2000 @01:38AM (#1105449)
    I seem to remember a landmark libel case, Cubby vs. Compuserve, where the court ruled that Compuserve was not liable for the content of their message boards because of the fact that the did not excercise any sort of editorial control.

    It seems that eBay takes the opposite tack of discussion groups; eBay actively monitors and exercises control of the listings on their sites by removing auctions practically at the drop of a hat. Does this make eBay liable for auctions on their site?

    It's pretty clear what legal advice eBay was given by their counsel. However, that doesn't mean they are right. Does anyone expect to see a major lawsuit against eBay for an auction that slips by their monitors? Is it possible for eBay to be liable for an illegal auction that slips through the cracks?

    Burris

  • by ArnieLerma (179640) on Friday April 28, 2000 @08:17AM (#1105450)

    Those of you familiar with bioelectrical character of the human body, might want to brouse http://www.lermanet.com/e-metershort.htm

    There is evidence that the 100 - 200 uAmp current supplied by the E-meter may have a physiological effect.

    My own web pages regarding this have been being hit heavily.

    Invetigators would likely want to have one of these E-meters to evaluate them fully. Scientology wouldn't want them to have them.
    But you don't need an e-meter.

    The rough Theverin Equivalent of an emeter
    is a 6 volt source driving a 100 to 200 uamp
    current source.

    Make sure you use large surface area hand held electrodes with approx 40 square inches of skin contact to the hands.

    Soup cans work fine, that's what the Scientologists use.

    http://www.prizm-medical.com/ has conductive gloves that would be useful for long exposure studies. They also market a low current device for pain kiling effects that uses large surface area devices.

    Scientologists are forbidden from reading my conjectures. I used to be one. I used to build e-meters. I currently think they provide a edorphin release pain killing effect - which if undisclosed to the Scientologists, makes them think that hubbard was quite grand, while addicting the Scientology.

    A recent article in the Washington Post described treatment of depression by electrical stimulation of the nervous system.
    webbed at: http://www.lermanet.com/lowlevel.htm

    The live time exposure of Scientologists to this small stimulating current is THOUSANDS of hours.

    Just how long would I have to run a small electric current through your body, while telling you things that you wanted to hear, before you became convinced that I held the secrets of the universe?

    John Travolta merely substituted the Scientology [tm] belief system, together with its subliminal, hidden, electrically induced endorphin "rush", for cocaine. He thinks he is "better", because the electrical addiction is hidden from him; he was just given a substitute.

    http://www.lermanet.com/e-metershort.htm
    http://www.lermanet.com

    I'd prefer to die speaking my mind than live fearing to speak.
    The only thing that always works in scientology are its lawyers
    The internet is the liberty tree of the 90's
    http://www.lermanet.com - mentioned 4 January 2000 in
    The Washington Post's - 'Reliable Source' column re "Scientologist with no HEAD"

  • by ch-chuck (9622) on Friday April 28, 2000 @01:04AM (#1105451) Homepage
    is the link [snafu.de] at the bottom to an Onion [theonion.com] article, "Travolta Hospitalized with critically low E-Meter readings"
  • by viktor (11866) on Friday April 28, 2000 @01:20AM (#1105452) Homepage
    Scientology is very good at causing great deals of trouble without any sort of legal justification. It's as simple as that.

    Very true. They managed to convince the Swedish government to break against the swedish constitution just a few months ago. I know it sounds conspiratory, but CoS have a lot of people high up, and have a spooky amount of power.

    The swedish government fell to CoS's demands when american politicians in "high positions" threatened to sue Sweden in international court. Why they fell, I can't imagine. So I'm not the least bit surprised that it is the CoS that causes this latest fuzz. And they will never be convicted of purjery. They have far too many too good lawyers and politicians on their side for that.

  • by alexhmit01 (104757) on Friday April 28, 2000 @01:23AM (#1105453)
    In my Industrial Organization class, we went over the renting vs. selling monopoly model, and it is kinda interesting.

    If you have a good, Widget, that will depreciate over time, you want to rent it, not sell it. The simple model is a two term model, where the good is worthless at that time.

    You can calculate the rental price in both terms (S and D) easily. However, the sale price is interesting, because in term 2, the sale price is the rental price in term 1. The price in the first term is less than the price of renting for two terms.

    Why? Well, in the rental scenario, the company produces Q* (where Q* = Q1 + (Q2 - Q1)) and rents Q1 of them in term 1, and Q2 in term 2.

    In the buying scenario, the company produces Q1 units in term one, but in term 2, the old ones are "for sale" because the same people can keep them or resell them).

    What is the point of all this? The CoS has a STRONG desire to eliminate the secondary market. Yes, anybody can buy them from them, but E-bay for the first time creates a secondary market. As it stands, because of the CoS's alledged behavior, former members probably hide as much as possible. As a result, I doubt that the old stuff is sold if people leave.

    However, with E-bay, there is a valid secondary market. As the CoS doesn't seem to be growing (if it is, it isn't very fast, or the CoS would be a major religion by now), the number of E-meters needed by CoS people would be pretty constant. I mean, if the # auditors increases by 3% each year (I'm assuming the CoS keeps up roughly with the population, no more) than the market for new E-meters is VERY small. However, if you keep the already sold E-meters off the market, and see all the new ones, the market is larger and the prices are higher. That is why the CoS wants to stop this.

    There probably are copyright issues... they probably own the images in use, have the name Trademarked, etc... As a result, they probably are legally at least somewhat on target. While they would probably lose, they can make it too costly.

    Now, the CoS can write a letter (at most, a few hundred dollars in legal fees) and keep the secondary market closed, while each individual would have to fight the CoS in a large lawsuit to create the secondary market. Without a class action suit, there is no way to fight the lawsuit, as no individual involved has the incentive to fight, and the CoS WOULD fight. I mean, if they back down it is more profitable, but the credibility to legally fight is important to maintain. That way, they keep the secondary market closed.

    Alex
  • by Animats (122034) on Friday April 28, 2000 @09:19AM (#1105454) Homepage
    The E-meter patent [ibm.com] mentioned was issued on December 19, 1979. It's basically a patent on a specific way to build an ohm meter. Patents from that period expire 17 years from issue, so it expired on December 19, 1996. There is a related design patent [ibm.com] still in effect, but that only covers the box, not the technology. In any case, patents don't affect the transferability of a purchased product.

    As a device, the E-meter is dumb. It's a skin-resistance measurement device, the least useful channel of a lie detector. Real lie detectors measure blood pressure, respiration, and skin resistance. The current generation of lie detector [stoeltingco.com] is an interface box for sensors that plugs into a laptop, replacing the old chart-recorder machines. There's automated interpretation software available, too.

    Scientology needs to update their technology. I'm suprised they don't have online web-based auditing by now, using a sensor box interfaced to a computer, voice over IP, and a Webcam.

  • by hartsock (177068) on Friday April 28, 2000 @12:54AM (#1105455) Homepage Journal
    Someone needs to start a slashdot-like website for lawyers called: (IAALaIMHO.org) I Am A Lawyer and In My Humble Opinion dot Org. I can see why we need an entire army of lawyers to function in this country. Didn't someone brittish upon hearing about the first draft of the constitution say, "They've written it down? Don't they know they'll be a-wash in lawyers?"

    --// Hartsock //
  • by Anal Surprise (178723) on Friday April 28, 2000 @01:36AM (#1105456)
    If you have some time and are curious about Scientology, the following are interesting:

    A Piece of Blue Sky [kvalito.no] and Lonesome Squirrel [xs4all.nl].

    L. Ron Hubbard's "legacy" is an interest example of the weirdness of the human mind. Want more? Check out The Kooks' Museum [teleport.com], Donny Kossy's excellent look into the minds of the truly weird.
  • by trims (10010) on Friday April 28, 2000 @01:35AM (#1105457) Homepage

    (or, get some balls, EBay)

    The E-meter is a physical device, that does not require a license to operate (that is, it is easily obtainable through open channels available to the public without any licensing required). Therefore, the Scientologists have given up any right to control what is done with the E-meter, since they sell it without a license of any sort. Period.

    Now, what is in the E-meter may be copyrighted, patented, or otherwise protected, so you can't automatically assume you can make a copy of it. However, so is any printed book. The courts have consistently ruled that the owner of a book may freely resell it in any manner whatsoever; that is, the copyright holder has no legal recourse to determine the resalability or conditions of use by the purchaser. I don't have the cases in front of me (Hawk, help!) but this is very well established case law. Once you own the book, you can do whatever you please with it; you just can't copy it (Fair Use, excepted). The physical item is yours, and noone, even with an army of lawyers, can force you do otherwise.

    The DCMA is simply being used to confuse the issue. It is not in any way applicable to this case, as it concerns the COPYING and MANNER OF USE of copyrighted materials. It says nothing about the resale of copyrighted material which has been otherwise legally obtained. UTICA, however, might possibly apply here.

    What this is is someone not consulting their legal department when they receive a demand letter (or, having a really bad lawyer look at it). The demand is invalid prima facia. This is the same as if O'Reilly had sent a demand to EBay to quit selling all those old copies of Programming Perl since they owned the copyright.

    In fact, Ebay should countersue, for malicious prosecution (actually, the civil equivalent), and have a judge force the Scientologists to pay their lawyer fees, plus lost income (hey, this is Ebay, we can inflate that lost income any way we want, and no-one would know!), plus punative damages. I bet they could get a couple million if they pursued this.

    Ebay needs to look at this as a revenue-generating opportunity! Hey, they might even get a stock uptick when they sue the Scientologists!

    -Erik

  • by divec (48748) on Friday April 28, 2000 @01:22AM (#1105458) Homepage
    As someone who is neither, I am highly offended by your comment. [...] What about my Christian friends? Have we all been brainwashed with garbage? [...] Let me guess: anyone who does not conform to your particular religious beliefs is branded an extremist idiot without a second thought.

    Scientology is fundamentally different from Christianity because it believes it is OK to lie to people when you're trying to convert them. For instance, scientologists will tell a Christian that scientology and Christianity are compatible. Let me give you some comparative quotes.


    • "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who ill-treat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also." -- Jesus
    • "This is the correct procedure:
      1. Spot who is attacking us.
      2. Start investigating them promptly for FELONIES or worse using our own professionals, not outside agencies.
      3. Double curve our reply by saying we welcome an investigation of them.
      4. Start feeding lurid, blood sex crime actual evidence on the attackers to the press.
      DON'T EVER tamely submit to an investigation of us. Make it rough, rough on attackers all the way." -- L. Ron Hubbard, Penalties for Lower Conditions.
    • "[making money from religion is for] men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain." -- St Paul
    • "I'd like to start a religion. That's where the money is.
    • -- L. Ron Hubbard, 1949.

    The examples [ezlink.com] go on and on. Scientologists are told to lie to people to advance their point of view. For this reason, calling them "extremist" is totally, utterly different from using the word to describe anyone who disagrees with your religious beliefs.
  • by divec (48748) on Friday April 28, 2000 @12:57AM (#1105459) Homepage

    This article is principally about the DCMA and not about Scientology, but if you're wondering why the Church of Scientology behaves as it does, it's worth looking at www.xenu.net [xenu.net] to get some of the picture. (This is an anti-scientology site; obviously, look at www.scientology.org for the other side of the argument then choose which you believe).


    As far as the DCMA stuff goes, I can't believe that it can restrict this much liberty and not get blown out of the water by the US Supreme Court for being an overextension of the government's powers. Unfortunately, until that slow legal process is actually complete, people in the US have to assume the law is valid. It's a case of the legal process being far too slow, once again.

  • by spiralx (97066) on Friday April 28, 2000 @01:39AM (#1105460)

    Maybe rather than that, /. should get someone in with some legal experiance to write about these kinds of issues. After all they've already got Jon Katz in to cover "social" issues, why not a lawyer as well? Since there has been an awful lot of legal stuff posted on /. in the last year or so this would seem to make sense.

    Of course, we could instead rely on the "informative" opinions of the /. IANAL crowd instead, to get the balanced opinions we know and love :)

  • by Teliver (142439) on Friday April 28, 2000 @01:15AM (#1105461)
    I'm really surprised that no one has thought of this before. Then again, maybe they have, and we just don't know about it. For every single item up on E-bay... write a letter claiming that it infringes on copyright. If what this article says is correct, E-bay will be forced to bring the item off, and if enough of this were done, either E-bay would change its policy, or it would garner headlines. And that would give us a real chance to get the law changed. Legal hacking.

We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"

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