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, (818) 794-3119. Permission has been granted for noncommercial electronic circulation of this article in its entirety, including this notice. Subscribe to Skeptic. For more information, contact Jim Lippard ([email protected]).

Scientology Loses Judgement 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 communicate 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.

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