Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Censorship

Google vs. DMCA and Scientology 383

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the stuff-to-read dept.
Uebergeek writes "This article at the NYTimes (free registration, blah blah) details how google is dealing with the many complaints it gets from organizations when one of its links potentially violates a copyright (or just irritates the copyright's owner). Specifically, it talks about how Google is dealing with the Scientologist's complaints about the list of the Operation Clambake site... now Google features a prominent link to another site that shows the complaint that the Scientologists filed, along with the delisted links."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Google vs. DMCA and Scientology

Comments Filter:
  • Just awful (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NickRob (575331) on Monday April 22, 2002 @10:43AM (#3387567)
    God Forbid that Google should accurately reflect what's on the internet. People should attack sites if they have a problem, not take other user's right to find the page away from them. This impedes everyone from having an idea of free speech on which the internet was built on. Awful.
  • Link to the page? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Andorion (526481)
    Where can I find the page that features "prominent link to another site that shows the complaint that the Scientologists filed, along with the delisted links" without registering for NYT? Someone post it, please? =)

    -Berj
  • When will it end? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DMCA (575172)
    How long will the DMCA be used to trample freedom of speech, expression, and fair use, until Congress gets it into their thick skulls that this is BAD LEGISLATION, and repeals it?

    Maybe the overwhelmingly negative response to CBPTBA (or whatever) will act as a wakeup call.
    • Re:When will it end? (Score:5, Informative)

      by mikethegeek (257172) <blair AT NOwcmifm DOT comSPAM> on Monday April 22, 2002 @10:50AM (#3387620) Homepage
      " How long will the DMCA be used to trample freedom of speech, expression, and fair use, until Congress gets it into their thick skulls that this is BAD LEGISLATION, and repeals it?

      Maybe the overwhelmingly negative response to CBPTBA (or whatever) will act as a wakeup call."

      All I can say is that if these sorts of laws continue to be passed and abused, methinks the IP hoarders will be "the first against the wall when the revolution comes" (to "fair use" some Douglas Adams).

      The fact that the DMCA *IS* most definately being used to stifle free speech, in the terms of POLITICAL speech (as $cientology IS a religious lobby), should ALONE merit review....

      But, alas, so long as the RIAA/MPAA/$cientologists, et all, get to INITIATE the cases, they will continue to get to handpick the judges and courts.

      Which will get us more sham trials like the DeCSS case.

      What is needed is for us to somehow file a CLASS ACTION against those enforcing the DMCA, on a first amendment basis, and based on the copyright/fair use provision of the Constitution.

      I had such high hopes for the Felten case, because for once our side would be the initiator, instead of the defendant... I beleive it was a mistake for him to go ahead and GIVE his speech, because to not do so would have made it easier to show that he was INTIMIDATED into silence by DMCA saber rattling.

      • The fact that the DMCA *IS* most definately being used to stifle free speech, in the terms of POLITICAL speech (as $cientology IS a religious lobby), should ALONE merit review....

        While I agree that the DMCA should be shot down ...

        How will cases that the plaintiff claiming violate the DMCA actually get to court with the apparent collusion of keeping cases using the DMCA out of the court?

        I believe that the case that Blizzard had initially claimed DMCA violations, but when the actual case was filed, there wasn't a mention of the DMCA.

        If Scientology actually does go through with suing Google (which Google is attempting to avoid), will there be actual reference to the DMCA? Or will they pull those arguements and replace them with trademark/copyright infingements?

      • by kadehje (107385) <erick069@hotmail.com> on Monday April 22, 2002 @12:53PM (#3388460) Homepage
        I agree that the DMCA is being used to unfairly trample free speech and is being distorted to attack those that the law itself was supposed to exempt (e.g. reverse engineers working on interoperability and ISP's). I also agree that we Slashdotters need to ally with whoever we can to make a strong a legal challenge as possible to this law. However, obviously it won't be easy to do financially, and even if we were to gather enough resources to defend ourselves, victory would be by no means guaranteed.

        IANAL, but it seems that you bring up a couple of legal issues that are by no means clear-cut in forming a successful attack of this law. First, to the best of my knowledge, there is no Constitutional guarantee of fair use. Fair use rights have been at times granted by Congress (e.g. the Audio Home Recording Act) and at other times courts have decreed that current American law regarding commerce dictates that certain uses of copyrighted material are in fact legal.

        However, if a law were passed by Congress that absolutely prohibited time shifting of television programs, it would probably pass constitutional muster with the courts unless it could be proved that time-shifting materially affected individual Constitutional rights such as the right to free speech, bearing arms, being free from unreasonable searches and seizures, etc. I do think that there is hope of Congress guaranteeing additional fair use rights. Even the Crap-BDTPA would have ensured time-shifting were legal; there are still some in Congress that would be in favor of guaranteeing additional, more important rights like the right to excerpt copyrighted materials in derivative works. The main issue is Congress has been rather slow in awarding additional fair use rights to U.S. citizens, and that laws like the DMCA are being used by technology companies to prevent people from using content in ways that were commonly thought (by both the public and policy-makers) to be fair use but in fact had never been made expressly legal or illegal by previous law.

        The second, and more disturbing point, is that large portions of the DMCA may be exempt from constitutional challenges. Aricle VI of the Constitution includes the statement "This Constitution...and all treaties made...under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land." I tried some searches on Google, but could not find any good evidence one way or the other to determine whether treaties could override the Constitution. If treaties can in fact take precedence, anything in the DMCA that parrots language in the WIPO treaties that it was meant to implement would be exempt from constitutionality reviews. If it turns out that such language in fact conflicts with the first Amendment, then in effect the First Amendment's scope will have been reduced. In this case, there would be only two ways to overturn the DMCA: (1) pass a constitutional amendment guaranteeing rights taken away by the DMCA, or (2) withdrawing from the treaty as was done several months ago by President Bush with the ABM treaty. Neither of these actions would be easy, and would be even more difficult than having a court nullifying a unconstitional standard law.

        Are there any lawyers out there that could either support or rebut the concerns I made in this post? Hopefully my concerns about the WIPO effectively amending the constitution turn out to be just paranoid ranting. Like I said, I don't mean to imply that getting together and fighting this DMCA in the courts would be useless. It's just that people should understand that there may be legal hurdles to overcome in addition to financial ones involved in lawsuits, and that we should be prepared to do other things in addition to giving money to groups like the EFF in order to get offensive parts and interpretations of the DMCA overturned.
    • How long will the Scientologists trample freedom of speech, expression, and fair use, until Congress gets it into their thick skulls that this is a BAD RELIGION, and repeals it?

      The Co$ seems to be all about ruining everything not involved in the Co$. If that is your gov't then you should worry!
    • "How long will the DMCA be used to trample freedom of speech, expression, and fair use, until Congress gets it into their thick skulls that this is BAD LEGISLATION, and repeals it?"

      This leads to another question.

      I don't know when corruption will be interupted long enough to adress fundemental differances in what property is valuable and it's effect on distribution of wealth, but I do know we aren't comming out of this recession until such an interuption occurs.

      This sixy year cyclical downturn will last as long as our government does not represent the people in it decisions.

      To put it another way (roughly)...

      /*my appoliges for the defines, lameness filter sucks.. :)*/
      #Define /* Comment
      #Define */ EndComment
      while(Years-Democracy)
      {
      if(((Years-Democracy+RandomGlobalEconomyFact ors()) %60)<=0)
      {
      while(corruption) Comment recession EndComment
      {
      corruption=legislation(corruption+RandomSelflessPa triotLuck()); Comment stuck in recession EndComment
      Comment this is speculation, never been here EndComment
      if(recession>=15)
      {
      Years-Democracy=-1;
      corruption=-1;
      }
      recession++
      }
      }
      Years-Democracy++;
      }

  • by Indras (515472) on Monday April 22, 2002 @10:47AM (#3387605)
    It really makes you ponder after you read this article about why Google did what they did. I'm sure it was just to pass the buck, or lower publicity about it.

    The fact is, Xenu.net (the site in question here) is based in Norway. I highly doubt they could use the DMCA to have the links removed legally. Luckily for Google, however, this incident has put the DMCA on the spotlight. Now, more than just geeks care about it, especially when it ends up in the New York Times.
  • hyperlinking (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sadtrev (61519) on Monday April 22, 2002 @10:53AM (#3387643) Homepage
    It's rather Ironic that the NYT article discussing the right to link in such a balanced and enlightened manner, itself contains no hyperlinks to any of the sites that it is discussing.
  • Karma Whoring (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kredal (566494) on Monday April 22, 2002 @10:53AM (#3387644) Homepage Journal
    From news.yahoo.com [yahoo.com] is the same story, no registration required.
  • In karate, you forcibly block attacks. In tai chi, you push at right angles and make the attack fly off into outer space without exhausting yourself.

    Google is IMHO doing more to keep ideas flowing than they would in a head-on confrontation.
  • boom! (Score:2, Informative)

    by slug359 (533109)
    Remember when linking to Xenu.net to use Scientology [xenu.net] and not $cientology [xenu.net]. How many people use the $ in Google?
  • by Loki_1929 (550940) on Monday April 22, 2002 @10:57AM (#3387668) Journal
    Seeing as Scientology fits all the classic signs of a cult, why has it not been properly labled and dealt with? Simply reclassifying it properly would give law enforcement agencies much greater access to investigate and prosecute abuses within the "church" of Scientology and would serve to protect the members from themselves.

    The only people who lose when you call Scientology what it is - a cult - are the profiteering people who run it.

    • What are the "classic signs" of a cult?
      • by KelsoLundeen (454249) on Monday April 22, 2002 @11:11AM (#3387746)
        Creepy people.

        Leaders who wear sunglasses.

        Guys who sit in big chairs.

        Vats.

      • Well, seeing as I'm at work and lack the time to list everything I was told while in college, I think this link here [jubilee.org.nz] pretty much sums it up.

        A couple don't apply (as it's not a "christian" group), but almost all the others hit right on.

        Time is also forcing me to use danlging prepositions. :( today isn't a good day for me. :/

      • What are the "classic signs" of a cult?

        The acronym to remember is BITE and it's all about control.
        • Behaviour control - what the cult member can and can't do.
        • Information control - what information the cult members are exposed to.
        • Thought control - how to think and attitudes towards the "outside world"
        • Emotional control - cults manipulate emotions to a remarkable degree in order to control their followers.

        I suggest having a look at Freedom of Mind [freedomofmind.com] and their resources.
          • Behaviour control - what the cult member can and can't do.
          • All religions do this. re: Abortion, homosexuality, sex.

          • Information control - what information the cult members are exposed to.
          • All religions do this. re: The vault of secret church artifacts the vatican hides in Rome.

          • Thought control - how to think and attitudes towards the "outside world"
          • All religions do this. re: Gays are evil. Jews are evil. Americans are evil.

          • Emotional control - cults manipulate emotions to a remarkable degree in order to control their followers.
          • All religions do this. re: Uhm...I dunno, look around. It's everywhere.

          Religion is just another name for Corporation. Cults are just too small and too early in their development to have the benefit of being based on the words and actions of people long forgotten. For all we know Jesus was considered a cult leader, and if he were around today we'd have the DoJ storm his compound and torch his followers.
          • You're misunderstanding the context of the word 'control'. When a cult controls someone's thoughts/emotions/etc, they aren't just influencing them, they're completely annihilating any alternative whatsoever to the point that the cult member knows no other way to think/feel/act/etc. There are homosexual members of the Catholic church, despite the fact that the Catholic church generally frowns upon homosexual acts. A member of a cult who manages to think differently in any way would be completely thrown asside, ignored, possibly harmed or even killed.

            If you've never seen someone who's locked in a cult, then you have no idea to what an incredible degree of control they're under.

            I've seen Muslim fanatics, and I've seen christian fanatics... but they don't begin to compare to someone who's in a cult.

          • Religion is just another name for Corporation. Cults are just too small and too early in their development to have the benefit of being based on the words and actions of people long forgotten. For all we know Jesus was considered a cult leader,

            I thought he basically was a cult leader, at the time? He was a rabbi who led some people who disagreed with the structure and some of the beliefs of the religious faith.

            and if he were around today we'd have the DoJ storm his compound and torch his followers.

            Um... didn't the government hunt him down and kill him? Seems pretty parallel.

          • I agree with the majority of your points - but cults have recognised differences with mainstream religions - nearly always about the degree to which all these controls are imposed and enforced. For instance, Scientologists impose a horrific procedure on anyone wishing to leave - including long periods of complete isolation and what could be described as solitary confinement.

            Or compare this quote about Amway (also a dangerously cult-like organisation which happens to be a corporation) on the attitudes you'll enounter when you decide to break free: "On your tombstone will be 'eternally broke'" (literal quote from a Diamond)....Despite the love and compassion exhibited by the people who love you, God help you should you quit. You may be labeled a quitter, loser, "thumb sucking pin head", bone head, idiot, moron, broke guy, wimp, socialist, mentally unstable, ego out of control, maverick non-team player etc..."

            As a conservative, protestant evangelical Christian, I'm more than aware of the dangers of mind control and emotional manipulation when it comes to faith - and I fight anything that says I must blindly accept or follow.
    • by The Good Reverend (84440) <michael&michris,com> on Monday April 22, 2002 @11:14AM (#3387762) Homepage Journal
      Cults are just religions with fewer members. In the US, it's not really the government's job to deal with religions unless they're a threat to something - they've ignored the big religions for this long, why not ignore Scientology? How is what they do different than what Christianity and Islam do?

      (Yes, this is probably flamebait. No, I don't care.)
      • No, Cults are not just religions with fewer members. From the Xenu.net FAQ [xenu.net]:

        <Quote>
        "Is CoS a cult or a religion?"

        There are many types of cults. Some are religious cults and others are not, the first term does not rule out the other. Every cult can be defined as a group having all of the following five characteristics:

        • uses psychological coercion to recruit, indoctrinate and retain its members
        • forms an elitist totalitarian society
        • Its founder/leader is self-appointed, dogmatic, messianic, not accountable and has charisma
        • It believes 'the end justifies the means' in order to solicit funds and recruit people
        • Its wealth does not benefit its members or society
        This definition is taken from the CIC homepage and it is my opinion that CoS fits this definition of a cult. Many critics and former members of CoS also describe CoS as a bait and switch racket or the mafia of religion.
        </Quote>

        That said, I agree that it's not really the government's job to deal with religions. But it is the government's job to deal with criminals.
        • M. Scott Peck, MD in his book, Further Along the Road Less Traveled came up with these 10 criteria for a cult:

          1. Idolatry of a single charismatic leader
          2. A revered inner circle
          3. Secrecy of management
          4. Financial evasiveness
          5. Dependancy (followers become dependant)
          6. Conformity
          7. Special language
          8. Dogmatic doctrine
          9. Heresy (Peck's definition of this is a little vague; something about the relationship between God and man not being proper)
          10 God in captivity (Peck defines this as claiming to know everything about God)

          I would add an 11th criterion: You have to give an excessive ammount (perhaps all) of your personal wealth to the organization. Maybe Peck would fit that under conformity or dependance.

          Peck notes that prior to Vatican II, the Catholic Church met most of these criteria, and still meets many of them. I suppose that one of the dangers of trying to find an objective measure of something is that you risk placing things you hold to be of value in a less positive light. Exercise for Slashdot readers: Apply these criteria to the Free Software Foundation, and/or the Free Software movement in general.

      • In the US, it's not really the government's job to deal with religions unless they're a threat to something - they've ignored the big religions for this long, why not ignore Scientology?

        Because they are a "threat to something," and the Federal Government has known it for quite some time, having spent millions to put various heads of the Co$ behind bars.

        How is what they do different than what Christianity and Islam do?

        While there are frequent horrific actions performed in the U.S. by adherents or even senior authorities of Christianity and Islam (e.g. the recent revelations about Cardinal Bernard Law in Boston), I am not aware of large-scale illegal operations authorized and performed by heads of those respective churches. As just one example, this Time Magazine article [cmu.edu] notes massive wiretapping and burglary operations aimed at Federal agencies, for which a large number of top-level authorities of the Co$ (including Hubbard's wife) were sent to prison.

      • Scientology differes from other religions and how they are allowed to act in the U.S. in a few ways.

        1. In most religions, you can receive the higest level of spirtual fullfillment for free; If you can afford it, you are asked to donate money, but even if you don't, no church services will be denied to you. In Scientology, you can easily become bankrupt trying to reach any level of spiritual satisfaction.

        2. In most religions, you can leave whenever you want. In Scientology, once you're in, they will make it very hard to leave.

        3. In most religions, the basic tennents of the religious philosophy can be explained and known to anyone. (i.e., Jesus Christ was God's son sent down to Earth, he died for our sins and saved our souls). I could'nt begin to tell you what that is for scientology, because A: I don't know and I can't afford to find out, and B: If I did know, I could'nt tell you for fear of being sued.

        4. In most religions, religious texts are free to distribute to others. In fact, it's encouraged to show the texts to others not in the faith. There is no copywrite on the Bible or the Koran. In Scientology, all religious 'texts' are vigerously protected by copywrites, and just being able to see them requires a great deal of financial expenditure.

        Don't get me wrong. Scientology is not compleatly evil. From people I've talked to, including 'ex-Scientologists', the orginization has some pretty sound self-help/life improving methods. (It also has some pretty dangerous ones). But being an (expensive) source of psychological help does not make you a religion. Psychologists, self-help gurus can perform simular services, and yet they are not afforded tax freedom.
        • There is no copywrite on the Bible or the Koran.

          This is a side point, but there actually is a copyright on any new translations of the Bible, and it is often enforced. If you buy a computer Bible program you'll note that the NIV almost always comes seperately for an additional charge. That's because the company has to pay the translators to include it.
    • I'm having trouble believing that you really wrote that.

      The US government is not supposed to be in the business of "labeling" or "dealing with" cults; or small, emerging religions, to use an unbiased term. I like to think that the government shouldn't be "labeling" or "dealing with" anybody.

      Scientology, which is no more of a scam than many well established religions, is as entitled to exist without government persecution as any other group. I may not like them, in fact, I despise them, but a line has to be drawn - the government has no business applying any other investigative standard to the Scientology cult than has been applied to the Roman Catholic church.

      In Russia, and in much of Europe, where controls on government intervention in the religious/ideological sector of the economy are not so stringent, the government is free to oppress scientologists, and does so. Read about it at the OCRT website. [freefind.com] Other governments use these same powers to quell political dissent, which is why in our society we have had the good sense to deny the government these powers.

      There is no way to grant the government the right to protect scientologists from themselves without granting the government the right to offer the same "protection" to other dissidents or nonconformers.
      • The US government is not supposed to be in the business of "labeling" or "dealing with" cults; or small, emerging religions, to use an unbiased term. I like to think that the government shouldn't be "labeling" or "dealing with" anybody.

        Clealry the tenets of freedom dictate that we don't want the government labeling groups as cults and burning their members alive (*cough*Waco*cough*).

        But also there are groups that use the shield of religion to mask some pretty dubious activities -- Jim Jones anyone? Isn't in the people's best interest that the FBI or whoever at least kind of kept an eye on some of the more fringe groups? I think its probably possible for the government to monitor these groups without necessarily infringing on anyone's right to worship as they see fit.

        Few reasonable people seem to think that their freedom to pursue commerce is affected by the SEC, and most people want the SEC to monitor business on an ongoing basis. I don't see why religious groups should be all that different.
      • In Russia, and in much of Europe, where controls on government intervention in the religious/ideological sector of the economy are not so stringent, the government is free to oppress scientologists, and does so. Read about it at the OCRT website. [freefind.com] Other governments use these same powers to quell political dissent, which is why in our society we have had the good sense to deny the government these powers.

        I find it funny to read Americans spout this kind of stuff. From the outside, American society and law seems much less forgiving about people who have different viewpoints that many other countries, such as Russia and European countries. A good example is that girl who was recently thrown out of school for opposing what the US has been doing in Afghanistan. How intolerant does a society have to be to throw a young girl out of school for being anti-war?

        It's funny. I live in Spain. Yesterday I was in a bar with some friends and a couple of American tourists. One of the tourists pointed a finger at my friend and in a suprised voice asked "are you legal?" After a bit of confusion we realised that he was asking my friend if she was old enough to drink in a bar. The girl was twenty. You cannot imagine how ridiculous it sounds to us here that in America an adult of twenty years of age cannot drink a beer in a bar. And you think it's the land of Freedom! Ha!
        • by WildBeast (189336) on Monday April 22, 2002 @12:09PM (#3388130) Journal
          "I find it funny to read Americans spout this kind of stuff. From the outside, American society and law seems much less forgiving about people who have different viewpoints that many other countries, such as Russia and European countries. A good example is that girl who was recently thrown out of school for opposing what the US has been doing in Afghanistan. How intolerant does a society have to be to throw a young girl out of school for being anti-war?"

          Well we didn't hear about that, nobody talked about it in the US but it wouldn't surprise me. Censorship is alive and well around here.
        • 1. The story of the girl who got 'thrown out' of school for opposing military action is not a matter of American law. It's a matter of an overzealous school administrator. Do not take this an example that our entire society feels this way, for it's not true.

          2. Far more people drive cars in the United States than do in Spain. There is therefore a valid line of reasoning for limiting people's access to alcohol until they reach 21 years of age... the less irresponsible young drunk drivers on our roads, the fewer alcohol-related automotive fatalities.

          Not that I particularly agree with this line of reasoning either.
      • by Loki_1929 (550940) on Monday April 22, 2002 @11:54AM (#3388030) Journal
        When a "church" endorses or causes harm to members and critics, I say to you, they deserve zero protection from the government. I'm a major fan of free speech and seperation of church and state, but their free expression ends when it causes harm to another.

        Talk to a few ex-scientology 'church' members and you'll find some of them fear for their lives. The US government is in the business of protecting its citizens, even if from themselves and against their will. I fully support investigation of any illegal activities by any "religious" organization, regardless of its name or popularity. All citizens are equal under the law and therefore deserve the same protections, whether from a sadistic killer, or from a "church" member/leader. Calling yourself a church does not give you an impeneratrable shield with which to beat your members, even if they ask for and accept it.

        • Actual separation of church and state would mean that churches got no special rights, as well as getting no special penalties.

          Do you believe that that accurately describes the current situation?


        • I can think of lots of ways in which so-called "mainstream" religons endorse or cause what could be considered "harm" to their members, depending entirely on your personal point of view.

          For instance (and please, these are not attacks, simply topics for thought) - the Catholic ban on contraception leads to how many unwanted pregnancies/back street abortions, maybe even deaths? What about religions which promote surgery on infants (e.g. circumcision)? I may be showing my ignorance, but isn't the Indian caste system based on religious belief? The list goes on...

          Not to mention the countless wars waged in the name of one god or another, that looks to me like "endorsing or causing harm to critics".

          I'm not defending the COS, really I'm not, but you have to treat all religions equally. Personally, I'd go for no special treatment for any religions, but that's cos I'm a non-beliver, and frankly the power wielded by the unelected heads of the major religions scares me :)
          • If someone ignores the Catholic ban on contraception , the Catholic church does not try to kill them. Circumcision is a medical procedure that is occasionally done without religious requirement. Nevertheless, circumcision does no more than remove the foreskin.

            Remember, we live in the 20th century. A church, or any body except a nation, cannot simply declare war on another body legally. Things that were acceptable in the 13th century no longer apply. The court system, for example, is under government jurisdiction, not church. Thus, in the current controversy with child molesters and the Catholic church, the Catholic does not have the legal right to 'take care of the issue' themselves. Government enforces the laws and enforces them upon anyone, regardless of their religious preference.

            In the United States, churchs are allowed to pursue their own form of worship as long as that form does not conflict with other laws. (The exceptions are relatively minor and mostly apply to Indian tribes and maintaining a culture.)

            Some church heads are elected. The Pope is elected, for example (from the Cardinal College, I believe.) Furthermore, the church body often has the power to get rid of a minister and request another.

            And finally, individuals have a right to leave a religion. Scientology does not hold this right and actively works against it, to the point of harrasement, kidnapping, brainwashing, and murder.

            Religions are established within some philosophical or theological premise. Scientology, instead, was established to make money. L. Ron Hubbard admitted as such. Scientology actively lies to its members, discourages any dissent, and attempts to silence its critics.

            Germany recognizes that Scientology is a scam, and it is thus illegal there. However, in the US, by hiding behind the tax-sheltered status of a church, Scientology has been able to grow and remain a threat for the past several decades.

            Scientology is a scam, not a religion.

    • There is no such thing as a classification of a cult. All religions could be labelled as cults, there is no more validity to catholicism then there is to scientology. The government should stay out of religion all together, which includes protecting their copywrited religion works. Thats why scientology is bad, not what they believe but how they go about protecting that belief. They treat it as a pure business when it should be treated as a faith, if they are to receive the tax benefits of a religious organization.

      I know a bit about scientologists beliefs and I do find it hard to fathom how it is a religion. Its psuedo-psychological crap which at the early stages is totally focused on your ability to interact with other people. The religious stuff only comes much later when you start paying really big bucks to learn about the aliens in your head. Whatever, its wacky, but not really religious in my opinion. Its just silly psychology invented out of thin air by Hubbard, with no real scientific background. They do have pretty effective study techniques though, they take learning very seriously and have really hardcore methods for pounding information into your head.
      • The government should stay out of religion all together, which includes protecting their copywrited religion works.

        The problem with this (while I agree with you) is that frequently groups will use religion as a shield to conduct various anti-government, civil rights breaking and otherwise socially degenerating practices. The Library of Congress holds the texts to which the Scientoligists vehemently protect. It also holds the ceremonies of the Masons, the temple rituals of the mormons and all other religous and mostly secret practices. So you see, the government has a way of making sure all things are kept in the open, even when we can't necessarily see them.

    • Cults have all the rights of other religions. The problems with labeling something as a cult and taking legal action against is two-fold.

      One, cult is very poorly defined. Most definitions I can think of, however, would include most major world religions in their early years. There are many people who would label pretty much anything besides protestant Christianity as a cult; there are others who would label the churches of the prior group cults, not without reason.

      Second, people have a fundamental right to choose how they believe and worship. If someone wants to follow Scientology, or Reverend Moon, or Jim Jones, it's not your right to force them to stop. It is their life, and ultimately thier choice, no matter how much someone else might disagree.
    • by Tackhead (54550) on Monday April 22, 2002 @01:11PM (#3388549)
      > Seeing as Scientology fits all the classic signs of a cult, why has it not been properly labled and dealt with? Simply reclassifying it properly would give law enforcement agencies much greater access to investigate and prosecute abuses within the "church" of Scientology and would serve to protect the members from themselves.

      I believe the only reason they were awarded "religious" tax-exempt status with the IRS is because of a denial-of-service attack against the IRS, using individually-filed spurious tax claims as weapons.

      Overview: $cn vs. IRS [uni-wuerzburg.de]

      One analysis [uni-wuerzburg.de] is particularly revealing.

      As I understand the story outlined in the pages I linked to above, "individual $cientologists" (that is, cult members, under directions from superior officers) filed thousands of lawsuits (that is, individual lawsuits, not a class action suit) against the IRS. The cost to the taxpayer of defeating each of these suits, one by one, would have been prohibitive. As a result, the IRS granted the cult tax-exempt status in a deal whose details are, shall we say, ethically-suspect.

      The tactic of using a DDoS-by-lawyer is straight out of cult doctrine: "The purpose of a lawsuit is to harass, not to win".

  • Unfortunately, the article reads like an account of two warring clans in the Appalachians. How quaint. The important point, which is that Google, which does NOT publish the "contested" information, is being forced to delist it.

    The current use of the DMCA is like forcing the phone company to delist businesses anytime someone files a complaint against that business. Until the writer's make clear what a travesty this is, Joe Public isn't going to be concerned.
  • 1. CoS made the information available in some format, either data, print or indoctrination, charging a fee for access to the information.

    2. Someone (Clambake, et al.) takes that information, and makes it public.

    3. A search engine picks up on the webpage, and posts links, without censoring or otherwise screening the information.

    Suddenly, DMCA is invoked, and it's the... search engine's fault? Why is the DMCA used to attack the avenue in which the information is distributed (Google, Napster, Slash^H^H^H^H^H informative news/opinion sources), when the actual "culprits" (Clambake, evil stereotypical teenage anarchist MP3 downloader) are left alone? Clambake's outside US jurisdiction (and technically, it's also just another avenue for criticism), so we go after search engines that are just doing their job? It's like the RIAA suing the Post Office for allowing someone from Canada snail mail Celine Dion's latest bootlegs to someone in Idaho.

    There's GOT to be a point when the US legal system is going to get tired of the abuse, not the use, of the DMCA in the spirit in which it was written.

    (My apologies for the pontificating. It's a Monday.)
  • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Monday April 22, 2002 @11:08AM (#3387725) Homepage Journal

    We are not able to run the following ad you have created using the Google AdWords Advertising Program:

    Headline: The c99 standard must go!
    Line one: The committee has failed to provide
    Line two: a usable standard. Boycott it now!
    Home Page URL: biodome.org/~qg/fairuse.html
    Link to URL: http://biodome.org/~qg/fairuse.html

    Thank you for advertising on Google. We review ads on a case-by-case basis and reserve the right to not run certain ads, or certain categories of ads. Due to our current ads policy, we are unable to run your ad on Google.

    Google believes strongly in freedom of expression and therefore offers broad access to content across the web without censoring search results. At the same time, we reserve the right to exercise editorial discretion when it comes to the advertising we accept on our site, as noted in our advertising terms and conditions. We do not accept advertising that advocates against any individual, group, or organization. Please note that the decisions we make concerning advertising in no way affect the search results we deliver.

    Please feel free to email us at adwords@google.com with further questions or concerns.

    Sincerely,

    The Google AdWords Team

    Neither the guidelines [google.com] nor the terms and conditions [google.com] say anything against "advocating against" any individual, group, or organization. So basically google reserves the right to censor any ad they feel like. Adult content is A-OK, but anything remotely opinionated goes.
    • "You are responsible for the content of each Advertisement, but Google reserves the right to review, reject, or remove any Advertisement at any time for any reason in its sole discretion."

      They also talk about infringing on copyright, etc. and libelous or slanderous communication.

      You include links to copyrighted material that you have locally stored with proper permissions. Thus you have violated their ad policy. I don't see the problem here.

  • Link to xenu.net (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hsenag (56002) on Monday April 22, 2002 @11:14AM (#3387759) Homepage
    One point the article made is that the original controversy caused lots more people to link to xenu.net [xenu.net], pushing it up from 4th in the Google results for "Scientology" to 2nd. I'd like to encourage everyone who hasn't already done so to also do this - maybe it can be pushed up to 1st :-)
  • by echucker (570962) on Monday April 22, 2002 @11:17AM (#3387772) Homepage
    Move the "In response to a complaint we received under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we have removed one result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read the D.M.C.A. complaint for these removed results." notification to the TOP of the page.
  • by MongooseCN (139203) on Monday April 22, 2002 @11:21AM (#3387798) Homepage
    The notice includes a link to Scientology's complaint on chillingeffects.org, which lists the Web addresses of the material to which Google no longer links. The result is that a complaint could end up drawing more attention to the very pages it is trying to block.

    In related news the sales of bullet proof boots has skyrocketed dramatically...
  • by nolife (233813) on Monday April 22, 2002 @11:28AM (#3387830) Homepage Journal
    The most recent complaint [chillingeffects.org] given to Google from the COS deals with Googles own Usenet archive. The process of transferring the burden over to the original web site owner works for web pages. What about the potential for copyrighted material in Google's own Usenet archive? Do they have to contact the original author of the messages which in turn would have to file a counter complaint to keep it in the archive?

    This whole thing seems to be going in the direction of the MS case, abortions rights, and campaign finance reform. A lot of time and money put into both ends but nothing coming out. The winner will be the one that had largest resource pool.
  • don't blame google (Score:4, Informative)

    by fermion (181285) on Monday April 22, 2002 @11:31AM (#3387852) Homepage Journal
    It is no ones responsibility to single handedly take on an injustice. Everyone who sees the injustice is responsible for fighting it. Also, it serves no purpose to taunt fellow members in the struggle for justice. There are times when others need to pull back, either because they are tired or because they can more be more effective using other means. At these times, an opportunity opens for someone else to enter the fray. Google has decided what it can do best, and is doing it.

    This also illustrates why we need many search engines. Google, whose size and popularity makes it a prime target, also makes them a prime place to publicize the censorship. Other engines can still link to the articles. For instance, it is still possible to find these links.
    http://www.scientology-lies.com/
    http://www.primenet.com/~cultxpt/cos.htm
    http://www.xenu.net/
    If we have many search engines, and other places to find links, it will be difficult for the oppressor to squash the resistance.

  • by DataSquid (33187)
    Why do these companies/sites always spring up in the USA? It's a shame. Perhaps moving someplace else would be an attractive option for some of these people (Google, Napster etc.) Just don't come to Canada. The US can find a way to throw you in jail if you do so much as sell a Brita to Cuba, I'm sure they can do more.
  • by kcbrown (7426) <slashdot@sysexperts.com> on Monday April 22, 2002 @11:43AM (#3387950)
    And they do have power -- a lot more than they're using right now.

    They're the premiere web search engine right now, with multiple companies (like Yahoo) using them as their own search engine.

    What kind of power does Google have? It can make a web presence disappear.

    Think of it like this: how do most people find sites on the internet these days? Search engines, right? Sometimes they'll find them indirectly but that's only by chance. When they're actually looking for something, they'll use a search engine. Which usually means they'll use Google.

    So by removing all references to a particular site, Google can essentially make that site disappear.

    And so Google should do exactly that to any web site that belongs to any entity that threatens Google with a lawsuit.

    It should prove especially effective against companies, which rely more and more on their web presence.

    • What silliness (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gdyas (240438) on Monday April 22, 2002 @11:54AM (#3388035) Homepage

      First, if Google's management has any sort of head on its shoulders it's not going to compromise its integrity as a web-searching tool in such a way.

      Second, if they ever did that to /., say, in response to disparaging comments about them, we'd all scream bloody murder.

      Why would you want to advocate "disappearing" scientology websites? Like our civil liberties, what you let them do to the scientologists, you let them do to us. Fight their misuse of the DMCA and the injustice of the DMCA itself to preserve our freedom to speak, don't advocate shutting them up because they want to shut us up.

      • I agree entirely. Googles approach of informing people of pages that have been removed is a great example of their integrity, and serves much of the same intent of warning people about what Scientology is up to.

        They could perhaps take this a step further and add warnings to all pages with a query on Scientology etc., pointing out (in a clearly labeled section) that because CoS is using a tactic of intimidation etc. to keep material out of Google and elsewhere, it is likely that the links returned in the search give an incomplete picture of the information about Scientology. Then they could (still in a clearly labeled section) give a set of links to CoS critics.

        The key point here is: If the material is editorial (Googles opinion, as opposed to the relatively objective result of their ranking algorithm), its ok for them to put it on their site, as long as there's no way people can mix up the editorial content and the search results.

    • If you REALLY were for freedom of speech, you wouldn't have even given your kooky idea a second though! You would be doing exactly what you're opposing.

      It is the Church of Scientology's right to complain about the links without any harmful repurcussions (such as discrimination...exactly what you are proposing). Delisting all those that oppose or threaten to oppose Google is basically a form of discrimination purposefully meant to harm their business. IANAL, but that sounds like it might just be illegal...if not just a shoddy business practice. Although I think they're showing that they aren't very secure with themselves as a religion, the Church of Scientology is well within their rights to complain to Google, ESPECIALLY since they did it in a manner that is following the process of the law. I don't like the fact that it's the law, nor am I proud of my country for passing such a law, but it is and they did. Deal with it, but don't suggest solutions that violate others' rights in the name of upholding the rights of others.
  • I have a idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 22, 2002 @11:47AM (#3387980)
    Let's revoke the church of scientology's tax exemption.

    Silly? I don't think so; consider:

    Churches in America don't pay taxes. They're recognised as non-profit, socially befeficial institutions and as such, it's historically been seen as worthwhile to afford them tax free status (given that they meet certian requirements).

    The Church of Scientology is tax exempt. This despite the fact that they charge for their teachings and venomously attack those that provide these teachings for free (unlike other religions). This makes them more like corporation than a religious organization. Thus, they should be treated as one. Require them to file tax documents like any corporation and be subject to audit by the IRS.

    The CoS is a cult; and there's nothing wrong with that. Cults have existed for years throughout the world, and the distinction between "legitimate" and "cult" beliefs is at best a tenuous one. But the behaviour of the church of scientology is that of a corporation (evil and vindictive, but a corporation). Let's let them have their trade secret teachings and go after people with lawsuits for publishing secret teachings and critical views of their religion; but let us also not passively fund this corporation by making it tax exempt.
  • Now here's a thought...

    What if you could convince your Senator or Congress-person to mirror the material? Do they have immunity for this sort of thing? Even if not, I'm sure there's more than one Senator out there who would enjoy ticking of the Scientologists.

    I seem to remember that Canadian MP's have immunity for anything that they say in the House of Commons. While this probably doesn't extend to their official websites, it probably hasn't been tested. They could also table the offending material as part of a debate on the subject which would give them a reason to post it. Again, I don't know if any of this would be legal, but it would certainly be interesting to find out. (And I believe that both the US and Canadian governments have more money and more responsibility to do this that google does).

  • by Phrogger (230179) on Monday April 22, 2002 @02:27PM (#3389294) Homepage
    Irrespective of the validity or not of their claims (clams? :-) Scientology claims to be a legitimate religion. And I'm wondering what might be (or should be) the implications of that. As far as I'm aware, churchs in the US, Canada and Britain enjoy a tax exempt status. Scientology also claims copyright over their beliefs and writings and uses copyright as a weapon to silence their critics and apostates.

    What I'm wondering is if official religous writings should even be entitled to copyright protection. Society is providing a benefit to the churches in making them tax-exempt. Thus I think that their beliefs and official exegesis of those beliefs should automatically be in the public domain, open to scrutiny, discussion, publication and criticism.

    Spirituality seems to be a fundamental need for many, if not most, people and liberal democratic societies have set up strong constitutional protections and freedoms for the expressions of spirituality. But those protections and freedoms must go in both directions by organised religions or we wind up with abuses such as Scientology.

Business is a good game -- lots of competition and minimum of rules. You keep score with money. -- Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari

Working...