Beginning of Petition Statement TO: The Church of Scientology, The Religious Technology Ce

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

Skeptic Tank!

**************** Beginning of Petition Statement ******************** TO: The Church of Scientology, The Religious Technology Center, Bridge Publications, Inc., Office of Special Affairs, and all other affiliated organizations, divisions and corporations of the Church of Scientology We, the undersigned, are disturbed by your recent legal attempts to stifle the free flow of information on the Internet and Usenet. Specifically, you have 1) threatened legal action against several automated anonymous remailers unless they filter out *all* e-mail targeted to the legitimate Usenet newsgroups alt.religion.scientology (a.r.s.), and (a.c.t.), open forums where all points of view about Scientology, both pro and con, are welcome, and 2) demanded and actually attempted the removal of a.r.s. in gross defiance of accepted Usenet practice and netiquette. Concerning 1), since nearly all (if not all) of the e-mail sent to a.r.s. and a.c.t. via the remailers is legitimate and originates from individuals who sincerely believe they need to post anonymously because of the nature of discussion, your demand, if implemented, would prevent these individuals from freely expressing their views in the proper forum. Freedom of expression is internationally recognized as one of the most important and sacred of basic human rights, and your demands fly in the face of this recognition. Your second demand, removing a.r.s., would go even further in inhibiting freedom of expression on all electronic networks. It is a *very* serious matter to attempt to remove forums of free expression. Your primary argument for issuing these legal threats, according to your statements, are that some people (the "perpetrators") have knowingly posted *alleged* (meaning not yet demonstrated in a court of law) Church of Scientology copyrighted and trade secret material to a.r.s. and a.c.t., sometimes using the anonymous remailers as the carrier (because of the common carrier-like nature of anonymous remailers, the administrators of the remailers have no knowledge of such activity taking place). Though we do not condone making copyrighted material available on any electronic network without the permission of the copyright holder, your specific legal threats are short-sighted, perceived to be mean-spirited, ineffective, and are on tenuous legal grounds because 1) It won't stop those who are determined to make available alleged copyrighted materials on electronic networks. They will find other avenues on the electronic networks to do so. Only prosecuting the actual perpetrators will deter this alleged illegal activity. 2) Your demands, if met, will have the effect of leading to significant stifling of free speech and the exchange of information on all electronic networks which, if not illegal in some jurisdictions, goes against all accepted conventions of a free and open society, 3) You have not stated, nor is there any indication, that you intend to work in a cooperative manner with legitimate law-enforcement agencies, the courts, and/or the Internet to locate and prosecute the perpetrators of the *alleged* copyright violations in the countries they originated. Thus, your threats are being construed, rightly or wrongly, by most on the electronic networks as an attempt to stifle free discussion on Scientology rather than trying to locate and prosecute the perpetrators of the *alleged* copyright and trade secret violations. With respect to the attempted removal of the newsgroup a.r.s., you also stated that the word 'scientology' is trademarked and thus the name a.r.s. infringes on such trademark. This is appallingly ludicrous based on past case law of similar situations, as well as your implicit acknowledgement of the legitimacy of a.r.s. by allowing Church of Scientology approved information to be posted to it by your supporters, and possibly with your knowledge and/or approval, ever since it was created July 1991, almost 3.5 years ago. Therefore, we, the undersigned, make the following demands. 1) Regarding your charges of copyright violation over electronic networks: You will cease all legal action, now and in the future, against any person, company, organization, etc., associated or affiliated in any way with all electronic networks, including the Internet, except that action which is necessary to locate and prosecute the perpetrators (as previously defined) of alleged copyright and trade secret violations, and other activity in violation of law, and *only* in full cooperation with legitimate law-enforcement agencies and/or the courts. 2) Regarding your trademark challenge of the Usenet newsgroup alt.religion.scientology: You will cease all legal action, now and in the future, to remove any Usenet newsgroup, BBS forum, mailing list or other similar forum of public exchange of information over any electronic network, or to inhibit in any way the flow of information to and from these forums. This includes, for example, ceasing all legal action demanding a) the removal of the Usenet newsgroup alt.religion.scientology and b) that anonymous remailers add filters as previously described. 3) You will publicly and officially state a) That you support the existence of free and open forums on all electronic networks to discuss Scientology from all perspectives and points of view (which includes yours), and b) That you do not support nor condone attempts by any entity to electronically censor, remove, obstruct, or tamper with any electronic communication except when allowed by a valid court order. If you outright reject or refuse to even discuss these demands in a good faith manner on Usenet, we have no other option but to consider such rejection or refusal to even discuss to be an act of hostility by the Church of Scientology towards the users of all electronic networks and forums, including the Internet. We are certain you do not want this, and we do not want it either, so we offer to work with you any way we can with regard to any legitimate demands you may have concerning alleged copyright violation(s) and other illegal activity. However, any attempts by you of any kind to tamper or in any manner restrict the free flow of information (other than that *specifically* restricted by law -- and *only* that) on any electronic network is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated for the reasons stated above. Signed, ******************* End of Petition Statement *********************** ====================================== Instructions for Signing This Petition ====================================== It must first be noted that this is a petition, not a vote. By "signing" it you agree with *all* the demands of the petition statement. If you do not agree with all the demands, then your only recourse is to not sign it. In addition, all e-mail signatures will be submitted to the Church of Scientology as well as the newsmedia provided more than 1000 validated signatures are obtained. Including your full name is optional, but very highly encouraged as that would add to the effectiveness of the petition. Signing via an anonymous remailer is discouraged, but not forbidden, as an attempt will be made to separately tally signatures from anonymous remailers. Signing this petition is not hard, but to make sure your signature is not lost or miscounted, please follow these directions exactly: 1) Prepare an e-mail message. In the main body (NOT the Subject line) of your e-mail include the ONE-LINE statement: SIGNED You need not include the "<" and ">" characters. 'SIGNED' should be capitalized. As stated above, your full name is optional, but highly recommended. If you do supply your name, please don't use a pseudonym or nickname, or your first name -- it's better to just leave it blank if it's not your full and real name. *************************************** Example: My e-mail signature would be: SIGNED Jon E. Noring *************************************** 2) Please DON'T include a copy of this petition, nor any other text, in your e-mail message. If you have comments to make, send e-mail to me personally, and NOT to the special petition e-mail signature address. 3) Send your e-mail message containing your signature to the following Internet e-mail address and NOT to me: =========================== =========================== 4) Within a few days of receipt of your signature, an automated acknowledgment will be e-mailed to you for e-mail address verification purposes. You do not need to respond or reply to this acknowledgement when you receive it. Thank you for signing this petition! Jon Noring (p.s., send your signature to *****************end of Petition Statement***************** [petition closed Monday, Feb. 6, with 606 signatures]


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank