Xref: news.media.mit.edu alt.religion.scientology:37955 comp.org.eff.talk:45912 Subject: L

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

Xref: news.media.mit.edu alt.religion.scientology:37955 comp.org.eff.talk:45912 Newsgroups: alt.religion.scientology,comp.org.eff.talk Path: news.media.mit.edu!bloom-beacon.mit.edu!news2.near.net!news.mathworks.com!newshost.marcam.com!usc!howland.reston.ans.net!ix.netcom.com!netcom.com!strnlght From: strnlght@netcom.com (David Sternlight) Subject: Latest CoS Suit Glendale News-Press Article Message-ID: Organization: DSI/USCRPAC Date: Thu, 2 Mar 1995 07:54:16 GMT Lines: 132 Sender: strnlght@netcom10.netcom.com The following story ran 2/22/95 in the Glendale News-Press. Permission granted by the News-Press to distribute via computer network. Scientology,Glendalian each claimwin in court By Elyssa Getreu Glendale News-Press A federal judge extended a temporary restraining order Tuesday against a Glendale man who criticized the Church of Scientology on the Internet. In a decision each side is calling a victory, District Judge Ronald M. Whyte denied a preliminary injunction requested by the church against the two parties who provide Internet access to Glendale resident Dennis Erlich. Whyte said he would modify the restraining order to allow Erlich to continue posting messages critical of the church, but forbidding the posting of extensive amounts of text, said attorney Richard Horning, who represented Tom Klemesrud, operator of the local computer bulletin board system Erlich uses to access the Internet. The controversy erupted in recent months on the Internet's alt.religion.scientology group, part of a worldwide computer bulletin board called USENET, when Erlich began posting material on the network that Scientology lawyer Thomas Small believes to be copyrighted by the church. Most of Erlich's messages consisted of passages from Scientology teachings, along with his critique. A former Scientology minister, Erlich is now an active critic of the movement begun in the 1950s by science-fiction author L. Ron Hubbard with the book `Dia-netics.'' Erlich was served with a lawsuit by two Scientology organizations, the Religious Technology Center and Bridge Publications, that are trying to boot the Glendale man out of cyberspace and are seeking $100,000 in damages. Also served in the lawsuit were Klemesrud and Netcom On-Line Communication Services Inc., which provides the connection between his bulletin board system and the Internet. Armed with a civil writ of seizure issued by Whyte, a group of Scientologists, Small, private security officers and a Glendale police officer raided Erlich's home last week to seize what they claim are copyrighted materials on the religious group's teachings. The group proceeded to copy and delete thousands of pages from Erlich's home computer, and seized 365 computer floppy disks and 29 Scientology books. At Tuesday's hearing, Whyte gave the church until Friday to provide a detailed list of the confiscated material and justification of the church's claim the material consists of copyrighted documents and trade secrets. Erlich will have until March 3 to respond to the additional material provided Friday by the church. Both sides said they emerged from the courtroom victorious. `We are delighted to know the judge is extending the restraining order,'' said Karin Pouw, director of public relations for the Church of Scientology International. `The message is very clear -- it shows that people cannot violate the rights of others,'' Pouw said. Erlich said the judge appeared to be protecting his civil rights. `I could not be happier (with the judge's ruling),'' Erlich said. `The judge walked away from Netcom and Klemesrud as defendants and it was clear the seizure was not handled as he intended,'' Erlich said. Scientology attorney Helena Kobrin said the church plans to reapply for a preliminary injunction against Klemesrud and Netcom. She also said she was certain an injunction would be issued against Erlich. `Hundreds of infringements were found and we are confident a preliminary injunction will be issued against him,'' she said. `If anyone emerged victorious it was Tom Klemesrud and Netcom,'' said San Francisco attorney Horning. `I walked away with a clear understanding that the judge is concerned about stifling opinions,'' he said. `The judge encouraged Dennis to continue his postings,'' Klemesrud said, adding Erlich could continue to quote from church scriptures in the context of `fair use.'' Copyright law permits the `fair use'' publication of limited passages of protected materials for the purpose of comment. Netcom attorney Randy Rice said the facts in the case speak for themselves: The church sought restraining orders against three parties and was granted one. `Netcom is a passive transmitter and it doesn't have control over the messages that are sent by the subscribers,'' Rice said. The company should therefore have no responsibility as an infringer in the lawsuit, Rice added. Erlich said he plans to file a countersuit against the church for carrying out the search and seizure in an `unlawful manner.'' `My property, privacy and peace of mind were destroyed,'' Erlich said. Erlich has not decided if he will name the city of Glendale as a defendant in his suit for police assistance in the raid. A case management conference has tentatively been set for June 9 and a trial date may be set after that date, Rice said. -- "I don't understand why they call it public broadcasting. As far as I am concerned, there's nothing public about it; it's an elitist enterprise. 'Rush Limbaugh' is public broadcasting." Newt Gingrich -------------------


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank