The following story appeared in the March 3 edition of the Glendale News-Press.
Permission to distribute on the Internet granted by the News-Press:
By Elyssa Getreu
A Church of Scientology lawyer filed a motion to hold a Glendale
man in contempt of court for allegedly violating a temporary
restraining order forbidding him from posting copyrighted
material on the Internet.
The church is suing Glendale resident Dennis Erlich for $100,000
for posting portions of Scientology works on the Internet's
The religious group's lawyers believe the messages contain
illegal postings of copyrighted materials of L. Ron Hubbard, the
Most of Erlich's messages on the worldwide computer bulletin
board called USENET 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 Hubbard
with the book ``Dianetics.'' Erlich deems the church a cult
Federal District Judge Ronald M. Whyte issued a temporary
restraining order restricting Erlich's activities on the Internet
while the court case is pending.
According to the restraining order, Erlich is allowed to continue
posting messages critical of the church and can 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.
On Feb. 26, Erlich posted a message containing a lengthy lecture
According to Scientology lawyer Helena Kobrin, the posting
consisted of eight pages out of a 25-page transcript and 19
additional lines of language taken from a Scientology
Kobrin said the posting violated the restraining order and filed
a motion with Judge Whyte to hold Erlich in contempt of court.
Kobrin said the posting was a clear violation of the restraining
``It wouldn't take a genius to figure out he violated it,'' she
The civil contempt motion filed by Kobrin requests Erlich be
booted off the information superhighway and made to pay for the
church's legal fees. The church also has asked that Erlich's
computer be seized.
``Erlich has proved he isn't going to stop,'' Kobrin said.
Erlich said the posting is consistent with ``fair use,'' although
he said he ``possibly forced an issue that didn't need to be
``I don't think I did anything wrong, and the judge said I still
had `fair use' rights. If I misunderstood those rights, I will
have to face the consequences,'' Erlich said.
At the conclusion of the posting, Erlich wrote:
``So if I am guilty of a copyright violation by making public, in
this humorous way, words from a lecture of the source of
Scientology that I studied as a minister of Scientology, Judge
Whyte has a right to throw me in jail for contempt.
``However, I truly believe that I am not doing anything other
than asserting my right to speak freely in public ~ a right which
Judge Whyte's ruling, if I understand it correctly, did not alter
Judge Whyte could not be reached for comment.
The judge is currently on vacation and will return Monday. He
will then decide whether to set a hearing date for the motion, a
court clerk said.
In addition to Erlich, computer bulletin board operator Tom
Klemesrud and Internet provider Netcom On-line Communications
Services Inc., Erlich's links to cyberspace, were named in the
lawsuit filed by two Scientology organizations.
Armed with a civil writ of seizure issued by Whyte, a group of
Scientologists, their lawyer, private security officers and a
Glendale police officer searched Erlich's home Feb. 13 to seize
what they claimed are copyrighted materials on the religious
The group proceeded to copy and delete thousands of pages and
seized 365 computer floppy disks and 29 Scientology books.
At the preliminary court hearing, the judge gave the church until
last 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.
After receiving the proof of copyright from the church, which is
about four inches thick, Erlich said the material consisted of
``bogus claims of ownership and lots of mistakes.''
Erlich has been given until today to respond to the church
Erlich also said he plans to file a countersuit against the
church for carrying out the search and seizure in an ``unlawful
``My property, privacy and peace of mind were destroyed,'' Erlich
said, claiming the church should have had the documentation prior
to the seizure.
Erlich has not decided if he will name the city of Glendale as a
defendant in his suit due to police participation in the seizure.
A status conference has tentatively been scheduled for June 9 and
a trial date may be set at that time, Netcom's attorney told the