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Scientology says it's threatened by "unadulterated cyber-terrorism"



[In a followup message, Linda gave me permission to redistribute the Church 
of Scientology's position paper on copyright and free speech. I thank her 
for engaging in this discussion. Previous Politech message, from this 
spring: http://www.politechbot.com/p-03281.html --Declan]

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Date: Mon, 26 Aug 2002 10:48:30 +0100
To: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
From: mediarelationsdir@scientology.net
Subject: Re: Church of Scientology position paper

TO:    Declan McCullough

I can see from your writings that you have a strikingly different view of 
the DMCA that we do. Your inclusion of the Church in some of your articles, 
without finding out what actions we take and why, calls for a revisit of 
the subject. I am happy to provide you with a position paper that lays out 
quite simply our view on the issue of copyright protection on the Internet.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Linda


Linda Simmons Hight
Media Relations Director
Church of Scientology International
6331 Hollywood Blvd. Suite 1200
Los Angeles, CA 90028-6329
Phone (323) 960-3500
Fax     (323) 960-3508
e-mail: mediarelationsdir@scientology.net




  CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY INTERNATIONAL STATEMENT
   REGARDING COPYRIGHT INFRINGERS AND GOOGLE


      Media reports reflecting partisan opinions and incorrect 
interpretations concerning Google's decision to remove links to web
pages containing copyright infringements have largely obfuscated the real 
issues.  Thus, we are providing this clarification.

I.  THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY AND THE INTERNET

      Scientology churches have always supported the Internet.  The Church 
uses the Internet in its dissemination of the Scientology
religion to the people of the world.  We recognize the Internet as a 
brilliant technological advance in the field of communication; its
benefits far outdistance any down sides.  The latter are not inherent in 
the Internet but are the result of abusive or unlawful misuse of the
Internet by particular individuals.

      The Church has established a significant multimedia Internet presence 
since its launch in 1996 of one of the largest and most
technically advanced web sites.  Our sites comprise more than 140,000 
individual pages of material and include virtual tours of our major
churches, images, multimedia files, and text.  These sites are also 
available in most major languages, with new languages being added as
fast as the translations can be done.  They are visited by a million people 
each month.

      The potential of the Internet to link individuals from all corners of 
the world and unify diverse cultures and nationalities makes it a
priceless resource for improving understanding among peoples.

II.  ABUSE ON THE INTERNET

      The freedom provided by the Internet is open to abuse, as the 
experience of the last decade has shown.  Unless certain rules are
applied on the Internet, our desired global freedom to communicate and 
exchange information will be corrupted by cyber-terrorism that often
masquerades as free-speech activism.  Thus, limitless "tolerance" of abuse 
will inevitably bring on overregulation if a few dishonest
individuals are allowed to flout the law and corrupt this communication 
medium for everyone.  In any event, those who were victimized or saw
their rights violated will sooner or later rise to defend themselves and 
lawfully restore their interests.

      In this regard, Scientology churches have taken actions to defend 
their rights and the rights of their members on the Internet.  Church
actions are confined to two circumstances:

      1.  Violations of the Church's intellectual property rights
      2.  Hate speech that advocates violence against the Church or its members

      While these are separate issues, they do have one notable factor in 
common: neither one involves ~protected~ free speech.  How ironic,
therefore, that more often than not, when a Scientology church moves to 
remedy such a wrong, these unlawful infringements are immediately
redefined as "free speech" issues.  Nothing could be further from the 
truth.  The determination to protect copyrighted works from unlawful
copyright violation has nothing to do with whether the infringing work is 
critical or laudatory of Scientology.

      The same holds true for the second phenomenon: hate speech that 
advocates violence.

       Threatening speech or expressions calculated to incite hate enjoy no 
protection under the Constitution.  Robust critical speech should
always be sheltered by the First Amendment, as long is it does not trample 
the boundaries created by law and jurisprudence in an effort to
protect the people from improper verbal abuse and its adverse consequences.


    III. COPYRIGHT ISSUES AND THE INTERNET

      Since the founding of the first church of Scientology in 1954, 
Scientology churches around the world have consistently championed all
forms of freedom.  This includes being one of the first to expose the 
existence of South African psychiatric slave-labor camps during the
apartheid era, and the atrocities committed on the people of 
Bosnia-Herzegovina in the name of "ethnic cleansing." Scientology
churches were pioneers in the development of the U.S.  Freedom of 
Information Act and used that law to uncover secret U.S.  government
chemical and biological warfare experiments that had been perpetrated on 
the American people.  The Church's human rights journal, Freedom Magazine, 
has won numerous awards for its journalistic integrity and its courageous 
work in protecting the rights of minorities.

      The Church's own creed states that "all men have inalienable rights 
to think freely, to talk freely, to write freely their own opinions and
to counter or utter or write upon the opinions of others."

      In addition, Scientologists honor free speech as a cherished 
Constitutional right.

      But free speech does not mean freedom to perpetrate a crime.  No 
matter how disingenuously copyright violations are postured as an
exercise of "free speech," the unlawful use of protected works was, is, and 
will continue to be a crime.  If an individual walked into a book
store and took away and sold volumes of an author's writings, or simply 
gave them away as part of a super-communist phantasm designed for a 
shared-and-equal-wealth Utopia, would any rational person defend this act 
of theft as "free speech"?  Of course not.  They would call the
police.

      Enshrined in the United States Constitution, and preceding the First 
Amendment, is an author's right to determine the manner and extent
of the dissemination of his writings.  The Constitution authorized Congress 
"to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by
securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to 
their respective writings."

      Creativity is encouraged when those who engage in it can enjoy the 
fruits of their efforts and control the use of those creations.  An
author has the right to determine whether his words will be published, by 
whom and to what extent.  In this way, intellectual property rights
and free expression coexist as fundamental rights.

      The Digital Millennium Copyright Act provides a mechanism that helps 
this coexistence to be peaceful.

      When it became obvious during the last decade that copyright owners' 
determination was being tested by a spate of unauthorized
distribution of their works over the Internet, the importance of protecting 
both copyright owners and Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
from potential adverse consequences became glaringly evident.  In a 
landmark lawsuit brought by two Scientology-affiliated organizations,
the US District Court for the Northern District of California agreed with 
their contention that ISPs may be liable for contributory copyright
infringement once they are made aware that infringements are maintained on 
their systems.  The judge's ruling resulted in a notice-and-takedown 
procedure to remedy copyright infringements.

      This notice-and-takedown procedure became an important aspect of the 
Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  It provides the copyright owner
with a remedy and absolves ISPs from responsibility for content and 
liability if they remove infringing materials, while depriving the
violator of the means to perpetrate his unlawful activity.  The DMCA has 
thus brought order to one area of the Internet that was in utter turmoil
prior to the Act.


IV. GOOGLE CHILLS

      In March 2002, acting according to the provisions of the Digital 
Millennium Copyright Act, the Church asked Google to remove their links
to certain specific copyright infringements.  Google responded by 
eliminating the links.  These actions on both sides were routine and
carried out pursuant to the DMCA.

      However, this time the often unpredictable currents of the Internet 
pushed Google out of the routine and into a storm of protest.  Taken
aback by this reaction, Google rapidly moved to put the Church's cease and 
desist letters up on a public website.  If the intent of this action
was to appear "politically correct" or to chill the Church's dedication to 
defend the copyrighted works of the Scientology religion, no adverse
affect has been created.  In fact, the Church views it favorably that 
anyone who is interested can see the letters for themselves,
uninfluenced by the hysterical rhetoric that was used by some media to 
mischaracterize their content and import.

      We are scarcely alone in utilizing the DMCA to protect our 
intellectual properties.  Considering that hundreds of cease and desist
letters are generated by copyright owners every day, it is oddly 
disproportionate that so much attention has been focused on the handful
sent out by Scientology churches.

      Record companies have used copyright law to halt the pirating of 
Digital Video Discs.  The Motion Picture Association of America has
endeavored for years to prevent the unlawful copying of video games and 
movies.  One company in the United Kingdom reports that in the past two 
years it has caused the removal of more than 5 million infringing computer 
files containing material belonging to its clients.  They send out DMCA 
letters to American ISPs as a routine.


         V. FREE SPEECH VS. HATE SPEECH

      It has long been an established legal principle that open incitement 
to violence against another is not protected by the First
Amendment, neither on nor off the Internet.

      If an individual shouted from his rooftop that he was going to throw 
a bomb through his neighbor's window, no one would accuse the
intended victim of attempting to stifle free speech when he called the police.

      Hate speech is also a factor that often motivates the Church in its 
actions.  Unfortunately it usually remains unreported by media, thus
depriving the public of the full picture.

      It has been necessary to take legal action on several occasions due 
to threats and actual violence against our churches.  Hate speech and 
extremist propaganda on the Internet have repeatedly driven unstable 
individuals to commit felonious acts against Church members and Church 
property, as in these examples:

      o A Scientology Church was fire-bombed twice with a dozen molotov 
cocktails doing extensive damage to the front of the church.

      o A staff member was stalked and shot at.

      o A crazed gunman went into a church and shot a pregnant staff member 
whose unborn child suffered fatal birth defects and later died.
The woman is now paralyzed.  He then set fire to the building and took 
another female staff member hostage.

      o Individuals became inflamed by venom spewed online and then sent 
out death threats.

      o An individual was convicted for threatening and intimidating 
Scientologists through the Internet.  He then fled the country to avoid
sentencing.

      o Police intercepted a man with explosives in his van, who, it was 
discovered by the officers, was enroute to assassinate the president of
a Church of Scientology.

      o A man constructed a mail bomb and hid it in one of our churches. It 
was detected and defused before it went off.

      If these acts are carried out against U.S.  citizens by Al Qaeda, it 
is called terrorism.  Within the microcosm of the alternative
newsgroups, Scientologists face a form of unadulterated cyber-terrorism, no 
matter how loudly its perpetrators try to disguise themselves as
"free speech" advocates.


   * * * * *

      Ultimately, the only guarantee of safeguarding the Internet's 
potential resides with all who use it.  We share the responsibility of
ensuring that abuses by a largely lawless minority are not permitted to 
burden all of us with over regulation.  We submit that had it not been
for a few lawless individuals, online copyright regulation would not even 
have been necessary; ample copyright law already existed.  It is up
to the law-abiding majority to ensure the Internet remains truly free.

      We welcome the opportunity to work with any individuals and 
organizations seeking the goal of a lawful, safe and vastly beneficial
Internet for all.

For more information, visit www.scientology.org


April 2002

Linda Simmons Hight
Media Relations Director
Church of Scientology International
6331 Hollywood Blvd. Suite 1200
Los Angeles, CA 90028-6329
Phone (323) 960-3500
Fax     (323) 960-3508
e-mail: mediarelationsdir@scientology.net




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