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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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  • A bad decision (Score:1, Interesting)

    by egg troll (515396) on Monday September 08, 2003 @12:42AM (#6897389) Homepage Journal
    I'll be the first to say that Scientology is evil. However, I'm distressed by this court's decision. For example, if I were to post an entire album by $BAND along with a critique, everyone would agree that this was copyright infringement.


    Of course, this is Slashdot where all copyrights are bad, so I expect this post to drown in a sea of downmods. Still, I feel that I need to point out that this decision doesn't sit well with me.

  • Good to see. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Endareth (684446) on Monday September 08, 2003 @12:42AM (#6897390) Journal
    It seems to me that the two lower rulings being overturned is a great achievement. Linking to remote content almost defines what the web is! And making ISPs into police is always just asking for trouble. Well done the Hague!
  • Re:A bad decision (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nels (325798) on Monday September 08, 2003 @12:46AM (#6897408)
    What makes you extend this to posting an entire album? What about fair use? Simply because the website posted portions of copyrighted material doesn't mean it's illegal. Also, another important thing is parody. I'm not familiar with the website, but if it could in any way be construed as a parody, it would be completely legit.
    We aren't against all copyrights (most of us anyways). We just don't like it when copyright owners try to make us use their information exactly as they wish and not to critique it with excerpts.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 08, 2003 @12:50AM (#6897420)
    In all fairness, though, there's translations of the Bible that are copyrighted and these copyrights are enforced. Now if you go and translate it from Hebrew, Greek, and the other languages used in the original texts, then you own the copyright and aren't subject to any trouble. Furthermore, I don't think anyone could possibly claim ownership to such translations as the king James Version. Most of the books you see published about Christianity are copyrighted, as are most of the hymns, though. It's a little different with scientology, but it's not the only religion whose texts are copyrighted.
  • Proud (Score:5, Interesting)

    by olderchurch (242469) on Monday September 08, 2003 @12:53AM (#6897433) Homepage Journal
    This makes me proud to be a dutchmen. And proud to use the excellent services from xs4all. They always have been a strong supporter of both privacy and free speech and are willing to back it up. Even though they went from a hacker provider to one of the major league telco subsidairies.

    xs4all keep up the good work!
  • Re:A bad decision (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kevinz (591587) <kevin@mailsoap.com> on Monday September 08, 2003 @12:54AM (#6897435) Homepage
    I've got one modpoint left, so I could mod you down, but that would prevent me from asking if you even read the slashdot article, much less the linked article. Besides, it'll happen anyway.

    Based on what the article says, what you are really saying is that if you posted a review of $BAND with a link to the illegal posting of the entire album that your ISP should be held liable for copywrite infringement. That argument doesn't wash with me; the ISP should be considered a common carrier and nothing more.

    This has nothing to do with Scientology and everything to do with protecting those entities that provide access to content providers. The fact that some copywrite holders (RIAA, Sceintology, etc) think that it is easier and cheaper to attach the bandwith provider than it is to attach the content providers does not make such actions justified. This is a good decision that should be mirrored in the US. I've got my fingers crossed....

  • Imagine that. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cgranade (702534) <cgranade@gm a i l . c om> on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:00AM (#6897461) Homepage Journal
    The courts actually ruled that free speech is more importatnt than IP. Now, if only the USSC could follow suit...

  • Ought to deal with Scientologists the same way. If their work is so secret that they cannot have it published, then perhaps they are consorting with Baphomet too!

  • Odd: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mac Degger (576336) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:04AM (#6897474) Journal
    Considering how important I take this ruling to be (it's a ruling upholding fair use and against strong-arm tactics; and it sets a nice precedent) for the web, I'm surprised this isn't being covered in the news in the Netherlands...it didn't even make regional tv.
    I wonder if it makes the back pages of the papers...
  • e-meter sessions (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lightspawn (155347) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:11AM (#6897498) Homepage
    ... And their rituals (with the E-meter) are just as strange.

    Not really. Their main purpose is four-fold:

    1. Provide a means for subject to discuss problems with another human being (on some very basic level, it does help, I suppose).

    2. Pass a low current through subject to introduce a sense of euphoria, which is both addictive and lowers resistance (heh) to interrogator's questions.

    3. Alert interrogator to any issues which may weaken hold on subject.

    4. Provide information on subject to be used if hold on subject ever looks like it may be broken.

    So, what happens in the U.S. if a organization is ever certified as a "religion" by mistake? Is any means available to undo it?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:19AM (#6897524)
    See www.xenu.net and Karin Spaink's site for what Stupidology teaches (secretly) and at great expense. Scientology price list shows it would take about $360,000.00 to do all their courses to obtain OT VIII. The secret teachings about how an ancient space dictator Xenu inplanted us all with body thetans (space cooties) we have to audit out at great expensse is something Scientology wants to keep secret because nobody in their right mind who knew that ahead of time would join scientology knowing that. Which is why Scientology sues and sues and sues. Once EVERYBODY knows, they are sunk. What this Dutch court has said in essence is, no, copyright law was not meant to keep such information from being discussed and proven from a cult's own writings. Its even stupider than Satanism. And that is why they are utterly desperate to keep Hubbard's drivel from being made public in a manner they cannot deny.
  • by Captain Sarcastic (109765) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:19AM (#6897526)
    I have to agree with AEton above.

    Religions are given a tax-exempt status on the grounds that they are pursuing a "higher truth," one that is supposed to be shared with others.

    Not so with Scientology. Try looking for one of their texts in the public library, and you'll more often than not find them missing. They say that "the world isn't ready for these truths yet," but still believe that they should enjoy the protection granted to other religions that do make their messages freely available.

    They can't have it both ways - either Scientology has trade secrets (in which case it is a business) or it doesn't (in which case it is a church).

    Thud
  • by TWX (665546) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:27AM (#6897558)
    I believe that any financial transaction between a church and a political official or candidate (from the church, not necessarily to the church) should be barred. Of course, I believe that any funding contribution from any organized group, rather than from private donors, should be illegal. This isn't to say that organizations should be barred from encouraging people so that people themselves make contributions, but it should not be processed in any way through the organization, nor should the organization keep any records of "commits" or the like. They should be free to voice their opinions, but it should stop there. This is supposed to be a country governed by people and for people, not by corporate or organizational puppets for organizations and corporations.

    Other countries call this sort of corporate contribution a bribe, and could go so far as to call accepting money like that treason.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:27AM (#6897564)
    Actually, they are organized criminials and terrorists masquarading as a cult. Why do you think they run all these front companies? Money laundering and tax evasion. Rread the comments on the site linked in the story, find the really long one where some guy wrote about the 10 odd years of his life he wasted on these creeps, he mentions several said front companies there and the illegal practices they did. Yes, it is in english. You can't miss it, it fills half the page. They are a LOT like Al Qaida, only its an American organization instead of an islamic one.
  • Expiration concepts (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TWX (665546) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:35AM (#6897596)
    The trouble that I've noticed with copyright is that it doesn't deal well when something becomes part of mass-culture. Someone or some group creates something that becomes intrinsic in society, yet even after the novelty has worn off, they continue to maintain an iron grip on it. They won't release it to the benefit of society. Disney, the RIAA, the MPAA, and the like are all involved in this. Hell, half of the old TV shows made after '68 are unknown to younger generations. How many kids under the age of fifteen have seen "Scarecrow and Mrs. King", or "Laverne and Shirley", or "Taxi"? Some of the programs that were popular even as little as 20 years ago, ones that made a large impact on popular culture, are not really found anymore, while TV shows before that (which were subject to differing copyright and public domain rules), like "Star Trek", "Lost in Space", "The Andy Griffith Show", and such are still entertaining people today.

    New culture can be cool. I've found groups like Space Hog, Chris Isaac, and Love and Rockets to be very entertaining and very talented, but I've also found a wealth of very good music and media from the past, and it doesn't see the light of day anymore unless it was top-40 back in it's heyday. That's just sad.
  • Re:A bad decision (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Waffle Iron (339739) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:51AM (#6897635)
    Please explain what would stop someone from taking a GPLd work, sticking their name on it, compiling it, claiming it was there own and selling it if there where no copyrights?

    You can do that now with a GPLd program, except for claiming that you wrote it (since you have to retain the original copyright notices when you redistribute).

    It's too late to remove copyright laws now (anybody who proposed such a thing would be accused of being some kind of communist). However, it would be interesting to go back to the late 18th century when the utility of copyrights was still under debate. If one could inform the people formulating these laws how much feature creep and freedom-restricting expansions the copyright concept would experience over the next 250 years, I wonder if they wouldn't put a clause in the constitution prohibiting copyrights.

    In its place, very strong laws prohibiting false claims of authorship might have been put in place. (This would address the "claiming it as their own" problem you mentioned, and almost nobody would object to such a statute because it's basically fair.) Additionally, only the actual author or his licensees could produce copies labeled as "genuine". Other than that, anybody could produce copies of anything, as long as they weren't billed as genuine.

    I would bet that over the centuries, this kind of copyrightless scheme would have supported plenty of content creation. It would tend to favor high quality works since people tend pay extra for genuine copies of the things that they enjoy most. The media industries would be smaller than they are today, but that's no real loss since 90% of everything put out right now is crap.

  • by Slurpee (4012) on Monday September 08, 2003 @02:07AM (#6897682) Homepage Journal

    So would Slashdot today still remove that text if it was posted in a comment?

    I remember Rob pulling that comment. I thought (and still think) that it was and is the saddest day in the history of Slashdot.
    After handling trolls, first posters, legal threats by Microsoft and other parties...they gave in to a Scientology threat. I'm not sure if Slashdot has removed posts since. But that was the first.

    a sad sad day.
  • by Mostly a lurker (634878) on Monday September 08, 2003 @02:20AM (#6897718)
    Condemns the plaintiffs to pay the costs of this suit, up to this moment on the part of defendants ... estimated to be fl 2830.- each time, of which f 330.- is recording rights.

    We are talking about legal costs for each ISP of less than US$1500. And the costs paid by the plaintiffs when the ISPs are found to do nothing wrong. Why cannot the US legal system be more like Holland's?

  • Re:Proud (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CvD (94050) on Monday September 08, 2003 @02:38AM (#6897770) Homepage Journal
    I second this. XS4ALL is definately the coolest, most techie-friendly ISP that I've ever come across. They provide all sorts of fun techie stuff like a shell account on a FreeBSD server, an IPv6 tunnel, batched SMTP, and a lot more.

    Hooray for XS4ALL!
  • Re:Go XS4ALL! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CvD (94050) on Monday September 08, 2003 @02:48AM (#6897798) Homepage Journal
    I've not seen anyone mention that XS4ALL, in their Terms and Conditions, encourages customers to hack their system and gain root access, and tell XS4ALL how you did it. They'll then give you 6 months of free access.

    Shows how serious they are about their own security and setup, too.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 08, 2003 @02:48AM (#6897799)
    This is because Christianity has lost it's power base. Remember they used to burn people alive for translating the bible from latin just because doing so allowed the actual doctrine to leak out to ordinary people.

    And that lead to the reformation, political revolution, the Renaissance and 300 years of warring and other ugliness.

    The net result was that Catholicism lost much of it's power base, but Christianity in general came out much stronger than it was before.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 08, 2003 @02:54AM (#6897814)
    I had a not so good run in with the scientologists. In Australia they hand out pamphlets saying "Free I.Q Test" with an address. Absolutely no details whatsoever saying who they are. Many years ago I actually went to it thinking cool (as if it was legitimate). I did the test and then they went off to mark it.

    When they come back they do a one on one interview. I think I got 132 (what they said). She said that's very good, entry level genius. I thought shit okay, then she said now look at this chart. Showed me a chart with different moods labelled on it, she said "you're all over the place, you're an unstable person" - "You have the intelligence but you need to balance yourself out, why don't you come on one of our courses?, $100." Thats when I started to think "Oh I see, get me in for a free i.q test and then try and get me to go on a course, well see you later". I should of knew better. At this point I didn't know who the scientologists were, and I couldn't of cared less, I wasn't going to pay money this way. So I told her I wasn't really interested.

    Then she said, well, then do you want to buy some of our books, $9-10 each (Author Hubbard of course). Then I said err no. Then that's when she came out with it, "It's all about trust, you have to trust me".. "Have you noticed John Travolta has been doing alot of movies lately?". Then I started to think, oh, scientologists, I think I saw these guys on the news. I actually had them mixed up with National Geographic.

    Then she really got aggressive... "Well, do you have any money on you?", I said, "No I got no money", then she said - "well do you have a card you can get money out of", again I said "No".

    Finally, I thought, I gotta get out of this mutha fucker, so I said "Err how about you give me your phone number and I'll call you?", and she said, "No.", and I said "why not?", and she said, "because I know you won't call", then I said "Do you trust me?". Then I got my bag and left, fucking showed her.

    As I was walking down the stairs I saw their posters and thought, oh yeah, I think I know who these fuckers are.

    Anyway, I blame myself for going and not thinking. Be careful of so called "free" i.q tests - they're out to brainwash you.

    Lately I've spotted a UFO cult in my neighborhood, the Raelians. These bitches are everywhere (cults) and you'll be surprised at their membership numbers, it's fucked up society we live in.
  • by R.Caley (126968) on Monday September 08, 2003 @03:08AM (#6897840)
    Evangelism is key to Christianity and said evangelism can't take placed without The Bible.

    Clearly it tookplace for centuries without the bible. It is quite possible, even easier, to evangelise by letting only the evangeliser read the secrets and pass on only those which will be useful at this moment, preferably distorted to match the local situation.

    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.

    That the marks^H^H^H^H^Hordinary believers should be allowed to read the secrets and convince themselves was one of the big innovations of the protestant reformers.

    There are incredible things in every religion. Every faith has its idiosyncracies. But most major religions are at least a little bit more - and a little bit better - than pyramid schemes with brainwashing thrown in.

    Take a walk around the vatican and ask where the money came from.

    Scientology took it's model from Christianity and just sharpened up the operation, looking more like the church back when it still had teeth than the stumbling mess christianity now is.

    But yes, most religions are not nearly as bad as Christainity and Scientology, I'd guess it was the close identification of christanity with the later roman empire which built it into such an efficiant command and control structure, or perhaps they learned a great deal from their enemies in Persia.

  • by R.Caley (126968) on Monday September 08, 2003 @03:22AM (#6897876)
    The net result was that Catholicism lost much of it's power base, but Christianity in general came out much stronger than it was before.

    Classical, dark ages and middle ages christianity was pervasive and a major power center, since then it has been all down hill.

    Apart from the USA, christianity is a mildly amusing sideshow in all of the developed nations. Even the Irish have been kicking it in the head in the past few decades. The Italians have a weird relationship with it, in that the church seems to be everywhere, but they basicly ignore it (eg look at their birth rate).

    The main places where christianity is really a force are in south and central america and some bits of eastern Europe (noteably Poland), where it is still the catholic church which is the power. The orthodox church looked like it might make a power grab in Russia after the fall of communism, but that is looking less likely as time goes by.

  • by Captain McCrank (583414) on Monday September 08, 2003 @03:42AM (#6897930)
    Hubbard used to be involved with devil worship vis-a-vis John Whiteside Parsons before he "discovered" scientology.

    Other Christians out there are quite comfortable seeing where the source of this evil comes from. An institution that is so whole-heartedly devoted to the distraction and misdirection of mental and spiritual energy really has to serve on some level, some kind of purpose. Given that no one's ever completed the "research" of Scientology, can it really serve any other purpose?

    "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he doesn't exist".

  • by mabhatter654 (561290) on Monday September 08, 2003 @04:25AM (#6898053)
    I think the Judge was right on. After all, this ruling is akin to the MS EULAs about benchmark results and the like. As far as "deep" linking and linking in general to offending material, Deep linking is merely exploiting a hole in the system. Most deep links could be stopped thru more careful administration...setup to require hacking which is a different matter. Linking to copyright material is not infringement itself...let's point the blame where it belongs...and use the links to rat out the offenders, till the offenders start prohibiting the links on their own! The only other issue was weather or not the item was a legal document or evidence. The court chose to dodge the bullet and call it an important part of the case which wasn't "gaged" and already out of the bag.

    As far as other claims, just like in slashdotter world, you have to be careful how you post things...most normal people have zero understanding of the subtlies of copyright law...how to make sure you can get your point without violation. The lawyers know people [and often Judges] aren't versed in the particulars. Again a case where the Law refuses to simplify rules, or publish "safe" useages without weeding thru piles of paper.

    Of course to me [USA] this means jack squat. We still have to deal with this mess!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 08, 2003 @04:28AM (#6898057)
    And for once, this is 100% accurate:

    1. Join our church
    2. ???
    3. Profit

    A cousin of mine once landed in these guy's hands. It took him and his parents four years to get him out, and he never really recovered.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 08, 2003 @05:23AM (#6898153)

    The Church of Scientology knows what they're doing, at least in terms of getting their sites highly listed in Google.

    I was doing research on drug addiction, and did searches for 'marijuana addiction', 'lsd addiction', 'cocaine addiction', and 'heroin addiction'.

    The first (or second) listed sites for each of those searches turned out to be Narconon sites. Narconon is a Scientology front group. see http://www.crackpots.org/ [crackpots.org] for more info.

    Narconon is not to be confused with Narcotics Anonymous, which is a legit organization. The name similarity is probably intentional (on the part of Narconon).

    So the next time you're looking for drug addiction info on Google, keep an eye out for Narconon pages, and if you have no love for Scientology, don't link to them. They seem to be doing well enough already...

  • by jcr (53032) <[jcr] [at] [mac.com]> on Monday September 08, 2003 @05:42AM (#6898177) Journal
    Religions are given a tax-exempt status on the grounds that they are pursuing a "higher truth," one that is supposed to be shared with others.

    Umm, NO. Religions get their special tax privileges on the premise that they're akin to charitable organizations.

    Scientology only professes to be a religion because Hubbard's decistion to try the "religion angle" succeded beyond his wildest dreams. The mere claim to religious status apparently paralyzes law enforcement in the USA.

    -jcr
  • by kahei (466208) on Monday September 08, 2003 @05:49AM (#6898183) Homepage

    That the marks^H^H^H^H^Hordinary believers should be allowed to read the secrets and convince themselves was one of the big innovations of the protestant reformers.

    Confining myself to factual corrections, I note that in many medieval christian communities everyone could read the bible. For instance, Alfred the Great translated it into English for that very purpose. It was only later when the ecclesiastical hierarchy became more rigid and more focused on Rome that the Bible was restricted to the clergy.
  • Re:A bad decision (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sphere1952 (231666) on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:26AM (#6898668) Journal
    Well, this doesn't go back quite that far...

    A SPEECH DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS ON THE 5TH OF FEBRUARY 1841 [yarchive.net]

    by Thomas Babington Macaulay

    On the twenty-ninth of January 1841, Mr Serjeant Talfourd obtained leave to bring in a bill to amend the law of copyright. The object of this bill was to extend the term of copyright in a book to sixty years, reckoned from the death of the writer.

    On the fifth of February Mr Serjeant Talfourd moved that the bill should be read a second time. In reply to him the following Speech was made. The bill was rejected by 45 votes to 38.

    Though, Sir, it is in some sense agreeable to approach a subject with which political animosities have nothing to do, I offer myself to your notice with some reluctance. It is painful to me to take a course which may possibly be misunderstood or misrepresented as unfriendly to the interests of literature and literary men. It is painful to me, I will add, to oppose my honourable and learned friend on a question which he has taken up from the purest motives, and which he regards with a parental interest. These feelings have hitherto kept me silent when the law of copyright has been under discussion. But as I am, on full consideration, satisfied that the measure before us will, if adopted, inflict grievous injury on the public, without conferring any compensating advantage on men of letters, I think it my duty to avow that opinion and to defend it.

    The first thing to be done, Sir, is to settle on what principles the question is to be argued. Are we free to legislate for the public good, or are we not? Is this a question of expediency, or is it a question of right? Many of those who have written and petitioned against the existing state of things treat the question as one of right. The law of nature, according to them, gives to every man a sacred and indefeasible property in his own ideas, in the fruits of his own reason and imagination. The legislature has indeed the power to take away this property, just as it has the power to pass an act of attainder for cutting off an innocent man's head without a trial. But, as such an act of attainder would be legal murder, so would an act invading the right of an author to his copy be, according to these gentlemen, legal robbery.

    Now, Sir, if this be so, let justice be done, cost what it may. I am not prepared, like my honourable and learned friend, to agree to a compromise between right and expediency, and to commit an injustice for the public convenience. But I must say, that his theory soars far beyond the reach of my faculties. It is not necessary to go, on the present occasion, into a metaphysical inquiry about the origin of the right of property; and certainly nothing but the strongest necessity would lead me to discuss a subject so likely to be distasteful to the House. I agree, I own, with Paley in thinking that property is the creature of the law, and that the law which creates property can be defended only on this ground, that it is a law beneficial to mankind. But it is unnecessary to debate that point. For, even if I believed in a natural right of property, independent of utility and anterior to legislation, I should still deny that this right could survive the original proprietor. Few, I apprehend, even of those who have studied in the most mystical and sentimental schools of moral philosophy, will be disposed to maintain that there is a natural law of succession older and of higher authority than any human code. If there be, it is quite certain that we have abuses to reform much more serious than any connected with the question of copyright. For this natural law can be only one; and the modes of succession in the Queen's dominions are twenty. To go no further than England, land generally descends to the eldest son. In Kent the sons share and share alike. In many districts the youngest takes the whole. Formerly a portion of a man's personal property was secured to his family; and it
  • by Evil Pete (73279) on Monday September 08, 2003 @09:18AM (#6898993) Homepage

    I now consider Scientology akin to a computer virus, exploiting a flaw in the human brain

    Like a real "Snow Crash".

    I got asked by one of them once to do a "test". And I started talking to him, but my answers must have been so non-standard he seemed like he was lost for an answer. And when I started describing the works of L. Ron Hubbard and his supposed bet with the editor of Astounding(?) about who could start a religion first .... he seemed to lose interest. Sigh. Its so hard to make friends when you bring up inconvenient facts.

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