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Dutch Court Rules That Linking Is Legal In Scientology Case 386

Posted by timothy
from the very-kind-of-them dept.
touretzky writes "The Court of Appeal in The Hague today rejected all of Scientology's claims in appeal in Scientology's action against XS4ALL, Karin Spaink and ten other internet providers. As a result, Karin Spaink's website, which Scientology sought to remove from the Internet based on copyright claims, is entirely legal in the Netherlands. The court also overturned two lower court rulings, one of which said that linking to material that infringed a copyright was itself actionable. The other ruling said that ISPs that failed to act on credible notification of a copyright violation could be held liable for that. The Appeals Court felt that this was too vague a standard, and thus posed a threat to free speech. More info at ScientologyWatch.org."
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Dutch Court Rules That Linking Is Legal In Scientology Case

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  • by AEton (654737) on Monday September 08, 2003 @12:45AM (#6897400)
    A religion that has trade secrets is a little frightening. And if you believe even a fraction of what the Xenu [xenu.net] people have to tell, it's more of a public service than anything else to expose the nonsense propaganda that this organization spreads.
  • Bleeding IP? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Empiric (675968) * on Monday September 08, 2003 @12:45AM (#6897402) Homepage
    Hmm... the article seems to center more on "common carrier" arguments and paraphrasing of the original work, the paraphrase of which is posted as content on the site, rather than linking, but regardless...

    It amazes me that the "Church of Scientology" continues to pursue this, after the well-known Usenet debacle. I don't see how it helps their image at all, trying to force people not to discuss their "religion". This activity only adds fuel to the fire. Surely they have their share of lawyers or PR consultants on board, doesn't the basic concept of sticking to your points and ignoring/downplaying your opposition's get on the strategy table?

    The disturbing part here is Scientology's continuing attempt to treat opposing views or information as derivative products of their ideas, and shut them down as if they were an IP violation. Maybe what Enron should have done is patent the concept of cooked books, and sued anyone talking about it.
  • by IamLarryboy (176442) on Monday September 08, 2003 @12:48AM (#6897413)
    This is an amazing victory for free speech. The COS is a rich dangerous cult that is amazingly adept at using the courts to silence its victims. It really is incredable that the good guys won in this case.
  • by Population (687281) on Monday September 08, 2003 @12:56AM (#6897443)
    Copyright is fine. Just as long as it will expire in a reasonable amount of time (20 years).

    Patents are okay, too. As long as they aren't for software or "business methods".
  • by jbs0902 (566885) on Monday September 08, 2003 @12:56AM (#6897445)
    I never understood the Plaintiff's legal logic behind these "linking" equals "copyright violation" cases. (I get the overall logic of "We are powerful. You are not. We'll make you shut-up if we don't like what you say." But, it is the logic in the legal briefs I don't get.)

    As far as I am concerned the A tag of HTML is just a citation format. If the link is a copyright violation, why aren't citations made in MLA or Blue Book formats similar copyright violations? The idea extends to deep-linking cases. If deep-linking allows you to skip past the ads on a web page and is supposedly illegal because of that, why aren't pin-point citations (where you cite both the book and the page on the book where the quote is from) illegal?

    I'll accept that a trade secret case could be filed, but copyright? If it is a link, it is not a copy; it is a citation, i.e. a pointer to the original "copy" of the web page.

    I haven't bothered to do any research on this (because it has yet to directly affect my life). Has any defendant advanced the A tag as citation argument? Did the judge buy it?
  • by TWX (665546) on Monday September 08, 2003 @12:57AM (#6897448)
    Remember, some European countries have deported all of the scientologists who are there for "religious work". I think that Germany was one of said countries.

    Religion has typically tried to assimilate as many people as possible, pretty openly, into it's grasp. Scientology's attempts to do this through a corporate mentality should bite it in the ass.

    Two things that religions shouldn't be allowed to do, in my opinion, are to engage in politics and to have inaccessible "trade secret" documentation. Even as fiscally based as many churches are in the U.S., it's not impossible to look at pretty much all of their published works and opinions. Organizations that claim spirituality yet violate these two borders should be required to have corporate licenses and be taxed, in my opinion.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:04AM (#6897475)
    Hopefully when you say that religions shouldn't be allowed to engage in politics, you mean that they can't function as a political party. They ought to be able to make donations to any candidate just like any other organization is able to, under the election laws. Just because they're a religion doesn't mean they should be treated any differently. Also, they should be allowed to stage demonstrations, especially on certain issues. Whether or not you agree with the opinions of most Christian churches on abortion, they should have the right to peacefully demonstrate about issues and get their members to mail congressmen in mass about these issues.

    On the other hand, if they decide to act as a political party, then they should lose tax-exempt status and be dealt with like any business under the laws of that country.
  • by Tokerat (150341) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:19AM (#6897523) Journal

    What I don't understand is the fact that in these deep link cases, the sites didn't take any steps to prevent the deep linking through passwords ro REFERER checks...that's akin to putting a poster of information near a window in your house and suing people who walk by the window and see it. How any judge could rule in their favor is beyond me.
  • Individual biblical works may be copyrighted in the sense that I can't obtain them, photocopy/transcribe them and then distribute the copies...but nobody is going to sue me for either singing a hymn or spreading "The Word" in ANY language. If, on the other hand, I spread the "history" espoused at the top level of Scientology there's probably a better than even chance that I will be sued.
  • by pyrrhonist (701154) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:24AM (#6897548)
    In all fairness, though, there's translations of the Bible that are copyrighted and these copyrights are enforced.

    Yes, but the difference is that you are normally allowed to print up to 500 verses from these translations as long as you attribute the source. In non-profit printings, you can print as much as you want as long as you attribute the source. At least this is the way it is with the NIV and NRSB. Also, the text of the Bible is not secret. You can get it from multiple sources, with multiple translations, and some translations are in the public domain. No one will come after you if you link to it.

    I don't think anyone could possibly claim ownership to such translations as the king James Version.

    Nope, it's public domain: The KJV Bible [ibiblio.org]

    Most of the books you see published about Christianity are copyrighted

    Uh, what's the point? Most books are copyrighted. A book about Christianity is not a sacred text.

    as are most of the hymns, though.

    As are most secular songs. Some hymns are also public domain. Hymns are not a major tenet of Christianity. They even differ from church to church within Christianity.

    but it's not the only religion whose texts are copyrighted.

    Christianity's texts aren't copyrighted. The Bible isn't copyrighted. Other Christian works such as the "Apostle's Creed" aren't copyrighted either. Some translations of Christian works are copyrighted, and some of them aren't.

    Anyone can translate the Bible and publish it.
    Anybody can get a copy of the KJV and publish it.
    I guarantee that neither Moses, Matthew, Mark, Luke, nor John will sue your ass for publishing it.

  • by tonywestonuk (261622) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:32AM (#6897579)
    How to get this site off the web...

    Plan a: Sue em!
    (if that doesn't work)
    Plan b: Get their link posted to Slashdot..... that'll burn their serves off the net!

    Seriously, I was approached by the Scientologiests a few years back (before knowing anything about them). I was a little naieve (sp?) , and signed up for a course in Dynetics... What they said seemed very plausible. The people who were running this course did seam a tad strange, almost as if they were in a daze....

    After doing a search on Infoseek for dynetics, (Google wasn't around then), I was quite shocked what these people could be up to. I decided not to return, though they phoned me back loads of times trying to persuade me to.

    I now consider Scientology akin to a computer virus, exploiting a flaw in the human brain, and spread from one to the next. First the brain is rooted. Trust is gained. And then, over the corse of many months, subsystem after subsystem is taken down. All for the persuit of cash. The net could well have saved me, by downloading info into my head, that prevents rooting by these people.

    I can only feel sorry for those who are already taken over by this cult.
  • Re:A bad decision (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aardvarkjoe (156801) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:33AM (#6897585)
    yes but no-one would be forced to use their rotten binaries.
    ... I don't see what that has to do with what I said. Stallman is the "GNU/Free Software" guy, remember? His primary goal is to make the source code for all software available (in fact, he wants to make it illegal to distribute something without source code -- even if I wrote the thing myself.)

    He sometimes claims that his purpose is to destroy copyright, but he wants more than that -- he wants copyright replaced with a system that enforces his particular views.
  • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:59AM (#6897658)
    >They never call it that, but that's what all of the teachings really are.

    And this is different from mainstream religion because...?

    I'm not one to defend Scientology or its methods but at its core is the concept of faith, the belief of things without proof or belief from authority. ALL religions share that, thus they are very much the same e.g. authoritarian, traditional, unquestionable, abusive, controlling, etc.

    A cult may be more intense but the e-meter and its wielders have nothing on days on end of meditation of the buddhist, the player schedule and diet of the muslim, or the passion of the revival christian.

    The good news is that as scientology gets criticized people start to ask the question what is a cult and find it hard to rationally come to a conclusion without hurting their own faith. The more agnostics and atheists the better. Keep up the lousy work Scientology, you're acting just like Rome and your other peers except you don't have quite the backing they do. Lawyers help, but billions of believers put a million lawyers to shame.
  • Re:A bad decision (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aardvarkjoe (156801) on Monday September 08, 2003 @02:59AM (#6897819)
    "Personally threatened?" That's laughable. I release all my stuff under a BSD-style license, which is "freer" than the GPL -- people can do whatever the heck they want with it. Claiming that someone "feels threatened" when they disagree with something is a classic ad hominem attack.

    You claim that he has "saved the world from a potentially very dark place." I don't buy it. His politics haven't done anything but create a bunch of people spouting his rhetoric. His software development has been much more successful, and I respect the amount of work he has put into it, but that doesn't mean that I have to accept his political views.

    But this is way offtopic. The original discussion was "would abolishing copyright make the GPL unneccesary?" and somehow you've managed to get it to meander into condemning English-speakers for being untrusting.
  • Here's a test to see if what you say is the truth or just a cynical "fairytale":

    Walk into a Christian church, Islamic mosque or Jewish synagogue and ask if you can sit down in their place of worship and read The Bible, Koran or Torah. Then, walk into a Scientology office and ask if you can sit down in their place of worship and read the history of Xenu and the thetans. I'm willing to bet that any of the first three will be happy to accommodate you while the fourth will not - though the fourth might just offer you a personality test, the chance to watch a video starring L. Ron Hubbard and an introductory talk with an auditor...

  • by Laconian (578463) on Monday September 08, 2003 @03:23AM (#6897879)
    I prefer Neil Postman's view on the subject in that religion is a mechanism for providing order and context to information. Religion might seem like a crutch, but to most it is a means of imposing a comforting sense of order on to the perceived universe.

    You could argue that Slashdot behaves much like religion, in that it ranks, orders, and provides emphasis on selected information. Just as Pat Robertson tells his followers that rock music consists of backwards Satanic rituals, Slashdot moderators dish out "-1, Troll" tags to me and put me below the posting threshold. Both of them have a major role in selectively sieving and censoring information.

    Actually, I shouldn't compare Slashdot to religion. Slashdot IS a religion.
  • by Shardis (198372) on Monday September 08, 2003 @04:28AM (#6898058)
    I totally agree with Tokerat.

    If you want to restrict who accesses the information you are specifically setting up software to share to a public medium, the onus to track and authorize users should be completely your responsibility.
  • by Deusy (455433) <charlie@@@vexi...org> on Monday September 08, 2003 @05:10AM (#6898133) Homepage
    Remember, the early church didn't have the bible, the first attempts to pull together a canonical collection was in the second century AD. Then for a long time it was the case that only the priesthood and educated laymen were given access to the bible.

    You readily assume such things as translation - both the Bible and sermons were previously only commonly available in Latin.

    The Catholic Church has never been comparable to Scientology. It's never charged for mere information and it has always had it's true preachers who would not bias their services to the rich.

    That the Catholic Church has been a power base, an organisation that actively sought to accumulate both land and other forms of wealth, is not in doubt. Like all ancient organisations, it's had dark roots and dark periods.

    But it's very rare that you get turned down at a Catholic church. Scientology, on the other hand, is just a scam to extort the rich.
  • by R.Caley (126968) on Monday September 08, 2003 @05:42AM (#6898178)
    You readily assume such things as translation - both the Bible and sermons were previously only commonly available in Latin.

    Indeed, information was for a long time not available in venacular translations because it was church policy not to let ordinary people have access to the sources. Just like scientology really.

    The Catholic Church has never been comparable to Scientology.

    Well, Scientologists don't burn people alive.

    It's never charged for mere information

    Well, it only allowed the information out through authorised channels, and to get access to an authorised channel you were expected to pay a tithe to support the local priest.

    But it's very rare that you get turned down at a Catholic church.

    Have you ever been turned down at a Scientology centre? The more suckers the better.

    Scientology, on the other hand, is just a scam to extort the rich.

    If only they limited themselves that way. The big money is in getting lots of small amounts from lots of people, not a large amount from a couple of rich people. That is why scientologists and preachers stand on street corners looking for suckers. That is also why televangelists exist and why a collection plate goes around a church.

  • by Blue Stone (582566) on Monday September 08, 2003 @06:24AM (#6898243) Homepage Journal
    You're making the mistake of lending Scientology legitimacy by calling it a religion.

    The correct term is "scam."

  • by Benm78 (646948) on Monday September 08, 2003 @06:29AM (#6898251) Homepage
    Off course, uploading an album in mp3 format and offering that for download is still as forbidden as it ever was.

    However, if you would place a link to another website that has this album for download, you would not be infringing copyrights or doing anything illegal whatsoever.

    It boils down to, more or less, the idea that you cannot be held responsible for what others place online... which sounds like a reasonable concept to me.

  • by oolon (43347) on Monday September 08, 2003 @07:05AM (#6898334)
    You mean like the way the church remove lilith (adams first wife) from the bible because it really didn't fit into what they wanted from a creation myth. (Gensis has far old roots that the Christian or Jewish faith).

    James
  • by ojQj (657924) on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:06AM (#6898561)
    Speaking as someone who is somewhere between an inactive and a non- member of the LDS church, I can say that the article you are linking there contains a large number of falsehoods and half-truths. A lot of the information which I cannot claim from personal knowledge to be false, I consider rather implausible.

    If you are actually interested in hearing what's wrong with that article, and what are (in my opinion of course) the real problems with the Mormon church, respond to this post. I don't really feel like making the effort of a sentence by sentence rebuttal of that article though for a religion I don't believe in, if you don't actually care about the truthfulness of what you post.

  • by ponxx (193567) on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:09AM (#6898582)
    > Scientology, on the other hand, is just a scam to extort the rich.

    Good point. Most religions are quite happy to extort the poor as well....

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