From Skeptic vol. 3, no. 4, 1995, pp. 18-19.
The following article is copyright © 1995 by the Skeptics Society,
P.O. Box 338, Altadena, CA 91001, (626) 794-3119. Permission
has been granted for noncommercial electronic circulation of this
article in its entirety, including this notice.
Scientology Loses Judgment in Internet Case
Following up the story by Jim Lippard and Jeff Jacobsen in the last
issue of Skeptic ("Scientology
v. the Internet"), on September 15, 1995, Federal District Judge Brinkema
threw out the injunction and vacated the writ of seizure against
Arnaldo Lerma who was raided by Scientology on August 12 for alleged
copyright violations. The judge ordered all materials returned.
On September 12, a Federal District Judge in Denver made a similar
ruling about the two raids that were conducted there a week after the
raid on Lerma, in which hundreds of computer disks were confiscated.
The New York Times reported on August 20: "To read what the
Church of Scientology calls the seventh level of spirituality, the
church's scriptures instruct followers to go to zoos and parks and
commuicate with plants and animals and go to train stations to put
thoughts in the minds of strangers." The Times reprinted
the two posted documents from Scientology's OT 7-48: "1. Find some
plants, trees, etc. and communicate to them individually until you
know they received your communication. 2. Go to a zoo or a place with
many types of life and communicate with each of them until you know
the communication is received and, if possible, returned."
Helena K. Kobrin, an attorney for the church, concluded: "The decision yesterday
was a very sad day for intellectual property owners and a very sad
day for the Internet. A ruling like this is going to end up creating
Congressional interest in making more rules for the Internet." The
church plans to appeal the decisions. [Note: The U.S. Supreme Court
denied the appeals, which were on the defendants' motions to return
their seized materials and throw out restraining orders. The cases
themselves have yet to go to trial. -jjl]
Meanwhile, Wollersheim and
Penny, in Denver, claim they were given two replacement computer
disk drives and replacement floppy disks with much of the original
material deleted. One CD-ROM was not returned at all. Judge Kane
threatened to hold the church in contempt, but decided instead to
appoint a computer science professor at the University of Colorado,
Gary Nutt, to determine if the computer equipment or disks were modified
in any way.