Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
The Courts Government News Your Rights Online

Dutch Court Rules That Linking Is Legal In Scientology Case 386

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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Dutch Court Rules That Linking Is Legal In Scientology Case

Comments Filter:
  • Re:A bad decision (Score:5, Informative)

    by serps ( 517783 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @12:47AM (#6897412) Homepage
    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.

    Everyone does (assuming you don't have permission from $BAND). However, the court upheld the right to post links to other sites, which is not the same thing.

  • Suppressed Documents (Score:5, Informative)

    by heli0 ( 659560 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:07AM (#6897487)
    Rob Malda: "Our lawyers have advised us that, considering all the details of this case, the comment should come down"

    Here is the document that Slashdot removed when COS threatened them with the DMCA: http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Fishman/Declaration/o t3-summary.html [cmu.edu]

    Hosted right here in the USA by Dr. David Touretzky, research professor at Carnegie Mellon University.

  • Re:A bad decision (Score:5, Informative)

    by anagama ( 611277 ) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:08AM (#6897490) Homepage

    Not the same at all.

    May I suggest following the link? The "Fishman Affidavit" is a court record - a public document. Here, I'll help you out a little:

    When Fishman was then brought to court, he used parts of Scientology-documents to prove he had been brainwashed by the Church. These Scientology documents thereby became public material: anybody could go to the court library and read them. The Church, fearing that its sacred secrets would be revealed, had some of their people going to the library every day to borrow these documents, thereby preventing other people (read: non-Scientologists) from reading them. Nevertheless, the Fishman Affidavit got copied (it was also available through the clerk of the court, for a mere $36.50). Somebody retrieved the affidavit via the clerk, scanned it, and posted it to the net. The Fishman Affidavit has been travelling on the Internet ever since.
  • Go XS4ALL! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Martin Wolf ( 703415 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:12AM (#6897502)
    This proves once more that XS4ALL is one of the greatest ISPs in Europe and possibly the world. No, I'm not affiliated with them, other than being a very happy customer.

    Let's face it, how many ISPs would stand by their customer against a rich and dangerous opponent? How many would simply have pulled Karin Spank's site at the first hint of trouble, without caring whether the complaint was justified?

    XS4ALL was started by the Dutch hacker group "hack-tic" in a time when Internet access was not available to the general public. Although they are a commercial entity and were bought by the national phone company a few years ago, they remain faithful to the spirit in which they were founded and to their original goals: to promote full, uncensored and unconstrained Internet access for everyone.

    Technically, they're great as well -- in my five years as a customer, I've only had a handful of short outages and all of them were caused by the ADSL infrastructure rather than the provider. Power users who want to run Linux, set up a home network and run their own web/mail server are not just allowed, they're encouraged. There's an on-line service page through which you can maintain things like spamfilters, a firewall (off by default, but easy to turn on and heavily promoted) and an experimental IPv6 tunnel. They run a number of game servers themselves and during Gulf War II, they participated in a digital TV trial which offered several Arabian stations in addition to BBC Worldnews etc.

    In short, if you're a geek, you should move to the Netherlands just so you can get an XS4ALL account.
  • by arvindn ( 542080 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:24AM (#6897547) Homepage Journal

    Absolutely. If anyone reading this hasn't already read the stuff at xenu.net, please please do so now to know what the CoS is really about. In fact, it is not a religion at all, but merely uses the pretense of religion as a veil for a massive and fraudulent operation of psychological abuse. The aim, of course, is to strip you of your last penny.
  • Re:A bad decision (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:27AM (#6897561)
    Sure there is, the GPL. Which is backed up by copyright laws. It would be illigal for me to claim open source work as my own if I did not in fact create it. You get rid of copyright and the GPL can no longer be enforced so there is no more open source since anything you release can be made into a non opensource product.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:54AM (#6897647)
    I can tell you first hand that this organization is evil. Now the people who are within it are generally well intentioned and sincerely believe that they are a part of something that is working to make the world a better place. This is part of what makes it so evil, it uses its own victims to perpetrate its crimes. Make no mistake, the primary victims of Scientology are its own members who are lied to at every turn and discouraged from seeking out or even looking at independent sources of information on the cult. Those like myself who get wise to the scam and leave are viciously attacked whenever we speak out against the cult and try to warn others of its evil. Of course you could say the same thing about any cult and even Amway for that matter. What makes scientology so bad is that unlike some scams that simply go after your money, scientology goes after your life. Scientology will bankrupt you, separate you from your family and friends, literally make you into a slave, and then cast you aside like yesterday's garbage once they've gotten everything they can out of you.

    Scientology is essentially a mind control cult bent on world domination disguised as a religion. The only weapon that works against such an entity is the truth, and is it ever working. Scientology has gone from being something that most people think is strange, if they've ever heard of it to begin with, to something that most people despise or at least distrust. I have the deepest respect and admiration for those who have the courage to fight this organization. If even one person is saved from a life of misery it will have been worth it.

    If anyone wants to know more about this organization, there is one place that should be able to answer your questions: Operation Clambake at www.xenu.net [xenu.net]
  • by msevior ( 145103 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @02:20AM (#6897721)
    The information in the Bible is the opposite of confidential!
  • Well, I dont think its as black and white as it seems. There is always information witheld to the lower ranks in almost all religions, starting with christianity in the older days, the priest was the only one who was supposed to actually read the bible and translate it for you, that was their purpose, granted thats all changed now. However I beleive mormans withold information to those not of their own, and carry a "level" system similar to scientology, at least I make this assumtion based on the limited access to their temples from outsiders.
  • by arvindn ( 542080 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @02:35AM (#6897762) Homepage Journal

    Which, I guess is, entirely different from an actual religion carrying out massive and fraudulent psychological abuse?

    Your sarcasm is wasted on me - I'm an atheist myself. However, there is indeed a big difference between what the CoS is doing and, say, people who try to convince you of the creation myth. Do you understand the word "abuse"? Can't you see that it is different from "deceit"?

    From Spaink's site:

    Scientology urged him to get the money any which way he could. According to Fishman, they also assigned him to kill somebody, and failing that, ordered him to commit suicide.
    Certainly there are other (pseudo) religions that carry out systematic psychological abuse, and I'm not condoning them: for example see this chilling article - sin and death in Mormon country [allaboutsex.org]; but then these are by far the exception rather than the rule.
  • It's not because Christianity has lost its power base (though the faith clearly doesn't have the direct power it used to have), rather it's because that religion has grown and changed over time. Evangelism is key to Christianity and said evangelism can't take placed without The Bible.

    The key to scientology, however, is in getting as much money out of the mark as possible while revealing as little detail as possible - an odd system for a "religion" which purportedly wishes to maximize human potential and rid the world of all negativity.

    Before anyone says it, yes, other religions take money and often "demand" it by making it a part of the religion. However, relatively few make that money the price of knowing the proverbial score. Were I Catholic, for example, I might be expected to tithe a percentage of my income. But, even if I didn't I would be able to not only read The Bible and attend services, my priest would be available to me for confession and other counseling when I needed it, not to mention that my fellow Catholics would be there for me when I need them. In scientology, there are times when you won't even be acknowledged by another scientologist without paying whatever money they are demanding.

    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.

  • Re:A bad decision (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nels ( 325798 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @03:11AM (#6897846)
    UPDATE: this may be redundant, but the scientology tracts on this woman's website are publicly available court documents, known as the "Fishman Affadavit" because of a court case involving a former scientologist and his contention that he committed crimes because he was brainwashed.
  • by hughk ( 248126 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @04:56AM (#6898114) Journal
    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.
    The Scientologists may do what they want in Germany, however they are not granted either tax exempt status or the ability to garnish money directly from their member's pay checks Kirchsteur or church tax.
  • Re:Googlebombing (Score:5, Informative)

    by kobotronic ( 240246 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @05:21AM (#6898151)
    Won't work. Ronbots have already created tens of thousands of fake 'homepages' for their victims, sorry - members - on which script generated Success Stories(tm) and links to every conceivable front and incarnation of the criminal organization are automatically posted. Here's a small sample, note the inconspicous domain name -- the whole site is in fact owned by Ronbots.

    Now check out the 'contact me' part:
    http://www.oursites.org/andreazastawny/cont act.htm
    The form goes straight to the Scientology main organisation's lead generation department -- without as much as a hidden form field designating the pretend-person whom you were 'contacting'. But you can be ever so sure somebody WILL reply.

    These tens of thousands of bogus and completely identical sites are designed precisely to spam the search engines, and regrettably it seems to have worked at least on Google.


  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <.moc.cam. .ta. .rcj.> on Monday September 08, 2003 @05:45AM (#6898181) Journal
    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.

    They also shouldn't get away with running a gulag and kidapping and torturing members who want to leave.

    Do a google search for "Larry Wollersheim". What they did to him alone should get that vicious little nut-cult disbanded, and get a couple hundred of their chain of command thrown in the pokey.

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <.moc.cam. .ta. .rcj.> on Monday September 08, 2003 @06:02AM (#6898199) Journal
    I now consider Scientology akin to a computer virus, exploiting a flaw in the human brain, and spread from one to the next.

    That sounds very much like Keith Henson's description of cults in general.

    Go to www.operatingthetan.org to get the full details of Scientology's vicious persecution of Henson, and also to find his articles on evolutionary psychology.

  • Re:A bad decision (Score:2, Informative)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @06:48AM (#6898292) Homepage Journal
    While nobody's been brazen enough to claim a GPL'd work is their's after being caught, there certainly have been cases where companies have used GPL'd software and "forgotten" to credit it or include source code, and who were subsequently found out by eagle-eyed users of their goods. Linksys would be an example, one of their wireless routers runs a Linux kernel, something they "forgot" to mention to buyers. It was found out, Linksys were informed they may be in violation of the GPL if they didn't reveal the fact and release the source, and Linksys, belatedly, did the right thing.

    So there are mechanisms to deal with this kind of situation.

  • Re:A bad decision (Score:3, Informative)

    by boots@work ( 17305 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @07:41AM (#6898455)
    While nobody's been brazen enough to claim a GPL'd work is their's after being caught,

    I'm sorry to say it has happened. I had the displeasure of seeing Stephen Kapp rip off some free software [sf.net], and I've heard of him doing it to other people too. And he's not the only one; I heard of something similar happening to Samba.
  • Re:A bad decision (Score:3, Informative)

    by waterbear ( 190559 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:59AM (#6898862)
    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.

    It's a good decision. The point raised by your hypothetical situation is entirely different than the one that was decided just now. IMO it's a very good thing that at least in the Netherlands, the courts seem now to limit the ability of copyright holders to use legal procedures to hook in people who at the very least are not primary copyright-infringers. The decision limits the scope for IP holders to abuse their IP rights by treating them as tools to intimidate people from doing lawful things.

    What seems a great pity is that some of the results of reported litigation have seemed linked to whether the defendant's activities are intrinsically sympathetic, not so much whether they breach the core purpose of the IP laws. The result is for example that litigation prospects for filesharing/ searching software can apparently be damaged by linking this activity -- fairly or unfairly -- with activities that Judge Joe Public finds generally unsympathetic.

    In this kind of environment, these Scientology cases actually look like good news for parties representing freedom. The Scientology parties are such unattractive litigants, that their attempts to use IP rights as pretexts to bolster their unsavoury activities are likely to produce decisions in favour of freedom that limit the abuse of IP rights.

  • by whaley ( 6071 ) <slashdotNO@SPAMhilvarenbeek.net> on Monday September 08, 2003 @09:20AM (#6899015) Homepage
    Some comments while reading http://www.rechtspraak.nl/uitspraak/frameset.asp?u i_id=51205 (it's in Dutch, the ruling of Sept 4th 2003) combined with the things I read about the whole thing earlier.

    Karin Spaink (the woman in question) has posted the Fishman affidavit in response to the Usenet debacle back then but when it became clear that it contained too much copyrighted work to be legal, she removed it and in stead posted a commentary on the whole case, including some quotes from the copyrighted (and supposedly highly secret and worth big bucks to Scientology) works.

    Because she was quick enough to remove the entire Fishman affidavit and the court didn't think she would re-post it, the court only focussed on the article with quotes that was left on her site.

    Scientology says OT II and III are illegal to publish and Internet providers should remove them immediately, also posting links to such copyrighted works is illegal

    The court agreed that linking and publishing copyrighted works was illegal and providers should give out names and addresses of violators.

    Spaink & providers claimed copyright was not with Scientology but that was not proven

    Quotes are legal if they are from a rightfully published source

    Court says some of the works are not rightfully published (i.e. not supposed to be public).

    EVRM (European treaty on the rights of humans?) could overrule copyright in cases of great importance

    Spaink's article is a serious article on a serious subject (-my words :) and non-commercial

    Court thinks Scientology is not afraid to deny democratic values and the secrecy of the works are also meant to exercise power over its members and to prevent discussion. (!!)

    Forcing providers to remove or make unavailable the articles by Spaink, is 'disproportional'.

    Providers are providing the technical means for publishing, they are not publishers themselves (compared to e.g. book publishing companies)

    It is not proven that the articles of Karin Spaink violate copyright.

    Court does not rule about the whole Fishman affidavit, as Spaink has already stopped publishing it and shows no intent to do it again.

    Again, just quick notes and IANAL. It's also worth reading earlier court decisions as this is a follow-up (appeal).

  • by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @09:20AM (#6899020) Homepage
    The problem with a Trade Secret case would be that if it is already published on their web site, it can hardly be called a trade secret.

    The things the Scientologists are suing over are NOT published on the Scientology website.

    To summerize, CoS is suing websites that say Sicentology is a UFO cult, for posting that CoS teaches that millions of years ago an intergalactic overlord called Xenu solved an over population problem by rounding up billions of people, deep freezing them, hauling them to earth, laying them out around volcanos, and then setting off nukes in those volcanoes. He then magnetically trapped the spirits of the people he killed and "brain washed them" with movies of modern life, Job-family-WhitePicketFence-Consumerism-Obedience, etc. Our bodies are infested with these brainwashed spirits and they deceive and control us. They are colled BodyThetans. Anyone who has not been cleansed of BodyThetans is under Alien Mind Control.

    Scientology is not attacking these statements because they are FALSE. They are attacking these statments because they are ACTUAL SECRETS of Scientology.

    The reason Scientology is exceptionally dangerous is the idea that anyone who has not been cleansed of BodyThetans is under Alien Mind Control. Assuming you have ever watched any SciFi movies you should realize that it is OK to deal with people under Alien Mind Control by any means neccessary. Generally you just lie to them, but it is perfectly OK to kill them when they get in the way. CoS's other tactics include lawsuits, threats, and invented charges (such as pedophilia) to discredit their enemies.

    It is "regrettable" that they have to do terrible and criminal things to people who are non-members of Scientology, but we are all under Alien Mind Control. It's like the Matrix, until we have been liberated we are all the enemy.

    Another specific teaching - when someone says anything negative about Scientology they do NOT respond to what was have said (what they have said it most likely true), what they do is discredit the speaker. This is known as "dead agenting". They hire private investigators and even illegally invade government databases to find damning information about that person. If they can't find anything they MAKE IT UP. Instead of responding to charges against CoS they say that the speaker is a drunk/communist/ex-felon/pedofile, that he lied about X, or was wrong about Y. That speaker is then discredited - he is a "dead agent". His statements will no longer be believed even if they are true.

  • by Misch ( 158807 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @09:56AM (#6899319) Homepage
    The Catholic Church has never been comparable to Scientology.

    Well, Scientologists don't burn people alive.

    No, they electrocute [whyaretheydead.net].
  • by GoRK ( 10018 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @11:21AM (#6900044) Homepage Journal
    The Catholic Church has never been comparable to Scientology.

    Well, Scientologists don't burn people alive.

    True, they don't. They much prefer to do this kind of thing [lisamcpherson.org] to people instead.
  • by touretzky ( 215593 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @11:37AM (#6900220) Homepage
    The ultimate expose of Scientology's Narconon scam was done by Chris Owen, and is available at
    Narconon-Exposed.org [narconon-exposed.org], hosted at Carnegie Mellon. Scientology hasn't gotten around to complaining about this web site yet, but they surely will.
  • by touretzky ( 215593 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @11:49AM (#6900342) Homepage
    Last week I published a confidential Scientology document showing that the cult expects to kill other members the same way they killed Lisa McPherson. The document is a release form saying that Scientology cannot be held liable if they seize a mentally ill member, hold them in isolation against their will, and subject them to Scientology processing in lieu of emergency psychiatric care. Even if the member is injured or dies, Scientology cannot be sued. (These terms are probably unenforceable.)

    Both scanned and HTMLed versions of the document are available on my web site [cmu.edu] at Carnegie Mellon.

    For News [cmu.edu] picked up the story, as did the New York Post [cmu.edu]. But the local papers in Tampa and Clearwater, Florida (where a major Scientology bas is located) have not covered the story. I think they're afraid to touch it, even though their own readers' lives are at risk. Maybe someone should ask the Tampa Tribune [tampatrib.com] and the St. Petersburg Times [sptimes.com] why they've lost their nerve.

  • by ThyTurkeyIsDone ( 695324 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:37PM (#6901539)
    Thank you for that. Sometimes it is really difficult to stem the tide [slashdot.org] of misinformation that is Slashdot.

    The court agreed that linking and publishing copyrighted works was illegal and providers should give out names and addresses of violators.

    Let me run that by you once more, crack-smoking submitter, crack-smoking editor, and crack-smoking moderators: The court agreed that linking and publishing copyrighted works was illegal, contrary to the sensationalist write-up with its sensationalist title! Spaink was acquitted because the material that she links to is in fact legal.

    Whaley, how long until your posts and mine get modded up to where people actually read them? And how many Slashbots are going to walk away thinking "Yay! I can link to any illegal thing I want."?

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.