Scientologists loses copyright case

Secret scriptures can stay online


The Court of Appeal in The Hague last week rejected all of the Church of Scientology's claims its action against the Dutch ISP Xs4all, writer Karin Spaink and ten other internet providers for publishing copyrighted material on the web.

As a result, Spaink's website which Scientologists had sought to remove, is entirely legal.

The court also overturned two lower court rulings, one of which stated that linking to material that infringed a copyright was itself actionable. The victory for Xs4all represents a significant narrowing in the ability of copyright claimants to harass ISPs, observers believe.

The case started about nine years ago, when former Scientologist Steven Fishman was brought to court because he had committed several crimes in order to get the money to pay for his courses. When Fishman in Time magazine blamed the Church of Scientology for his crimes, the sect sued him for slander.

Fishman used several secret Scientology documents to support claims that he had been brainwashed by the Church. As a result, these documents became public material. The Fishman Affidavit has been travelling on the Net ever since. Karin Spaink was one of many to publish these secret scriptures as early as 1995.

In September 1995 a bailiff raided the Amsterdam premises of provider Xs4all to seize materials of subscribers the Church of Scientology claimed to be in violation of its copyright. The sect also initiated exhaustive judicial proceedings, but each time the court decided in favor of Spaink.

However, the decision of the Amsterdam District Court of June 1999 included a separate declaratory judgment stating that providers must take action if they are made aware of material on their servers that infringes upon a copyright if "the correctness of the notification of this fact cannot be reasonably doubted".

This judgment was reason for Xs4all to initiate appeal proceedings of its own. In a press release Xs4all says that "Unless the criteria for removing information from a site are clearly delineated, commercial interests of providers may all too readily prevail over the protection of freedom of opinion".

The decision of June 1999 also made reference to hyperlinks to copyrighted material. If a provider is aware of this, it must also take action against these hyperlinks. But Xs4all believed that the court went too far with this. After all, a hyperlink is merely a road marker on the Internet, and can never be unlawful. The Appellate Court has now set aside this judgment of the District Court in Amsterdam. ®


Other stories you might like

  • AMD claims its GPUs beat Nvidia on performance per dollar
    * Terms, conditions, hardware specs and software may vary – a lot

    As a slowdown in PC sales brings down prices for graphics cards, AMD is hoping to win over the market's remaining buyers with a bold, new claim that its latest Radeon cards provide better performance for the dollar than Nvidia's most recent GeForce cards.

    In an image tweeted Monday by AMD's top gaming executive, the chip designer claims its lineup of Radeon RX 6000 cards provide better performance per dollar than competing ones from Nvidia, with all but two of the ten cards listed offering advantages in the double-digit percentages. AMD also claims to provide better performance for the power required by each card in all but two of the cards.

    Continue reading
  • Google opens the pod doors on Bay View campus
    A futuristic design won't make people want to come back – just ask Apple

    After nearly a decade of planning and five years of construction, Google is cutting the ribbon on its Bay View campus, the first that Google itself designed.

    The Bay View campus in Mountain View – slated to open this week – consists of two office buildings (one of which, Charleston East, is still under construction), 20 acres of open space, a 1,000-person event center and 240 short-term accommodations for Google employees. The search giant said the buildings at Bay View total 1.1 million square feet. For reference, that's less than half the size of Apple's spaceship. 

    The roofs on the two main buildings, which look like pavilions roofed in sails, were designed that way for a purpose: They're a network of 90,000 scale-like solar panels nicknamed "dragonscales" for their layout and shimmer. By scaling the tiles, Google said the design minimises damage from wind, rain and snow, and the sloped pavilion-like roof improves solar capture by adding additional curves in the roof. 

    Continue reading
  • Pentester pops open Tesla Model 3 using low-cost Bluetooth module
    Anything that uses proximity-based BLE is vulnerable, claim researchers

    Tesla Model 3 and Y owners, beware: the passive entry feature on your vehicle could potentially be hoodwinked by a relay attack, leading to the theft of the flash motor.

    Discovered and demonstrated by researchers at NCC Group, the technique involves relaying the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signals from a smartphone that has been paired with a Tesla back to the vehicle. Far from simply unlocking the door, this hack lets a miscreant start the car and drive away, too.

    Essentially, what happens is this: the paired smartphone should be physically close by the Tesla to unlock it. NCC's technique involves one gadget near the paired phone, and another gadget near the car. The phone-side gadget relays signals from the phone to the car-side gadget, which forwards them to the vehicle to unlock and start it. This shouldn't normally happen because the phone and car are so far apart. The car has a defense mechanism – based on measuring transmission latency to detect that a paired device is too far away – that ideally prevents relayed signals from working, though this can be defeated by simply cutting the latency of the relay process.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022