Xref: news.media.mit.edu alt.religion.scientology:37955 comp.org.eff.talk:45912
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (David Sternlight)
Subject: Latest CoS Suit Glendale News-Press Article
Date: Thu, 2 Mar 1995 07:54:16 GMT
The following story ran 2/22/95 in the Glendale News-Press.
Permission granted by the News-Press to distribute via computer
each claimwin in court
By Elyssa Getreu
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 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
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
`The judge walked away from Netcom and Klemesrud as defendants
and it was clear the seizure was not handled as he intended,''
Scientology attorney Helena Kobrin said the church plans to
reapply for a preliminary injunction against Klemesrud and
She also said she was certain an injunction would be issued
`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
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