Letter to the Editor re: "BU trustee wins copyright lawsuit
In the Daily Free Press, an independent paper for Boston University, on
January 26, 1996, an article appeared praising the
work of B.U. Board of Trustees Chairman Earle C. Cooley. As this article
seemed to be based on a very unilateral source of information: the Church
of Scientology, I wrote a letter to the editor. As of today, Jan. 28, I'm
not sure whether they are going to publish it or not. I certainly hope
To: The Editor of the Daily Free Press
The following letter is in reaction to the article as mentioned above. I'd
like to see it published as a "letter to the editor" or otherwise after
prior communication with me. The opinion expressed in this reaction is mine.
I do not represent whatever organization. If you edit this reaction for any
other reason than my writing style or spelling, please contact me before
Your article gives a very biased view of what happened in the lawsuit
of the RTC vs. Arnaldo Lerma. First of all, Mr Cooley was not among the
lawyers that represented the RTC in the last phase of the trial. Although
he represented the RTC in several other opportunities, he was replaced
in this trail after making massive mistakes and annoying judge Leonie Brinkema.
Then, you continue stating that this case "could begin to define the
limits of the First Amendment rights in Cyberspace". All US laws (including
those about freedom of speech, religion and protection of intellectual
property) have always pertained to the Internet. That such laws are being
upheld is not a merit of the Church or its lawyers; in fact it was one
of the Church's lawyers that infringed the common rules of Internet-etiquette
by deleting a Usenet newsgroup from the global newsgroup list. This is
considered illegal by law in many countries and caused an outrage among
many Internet users.
The Church of Scientology makes us believe that this is all about copyright.
However, a closer look at the facts shows other things: in a ruling of
Nov. 28, 1995, in the same case judge Brinkema concluded that "Although
the RTC brought the complaint under traditional secular concepts of copyright
and trade secret law, it has become clear that a much broaded motivation
prevailed- the stiffing of criticism and dissent of the religious practices
of Scientology and the destruction of its opponents." And indeed,
the words of L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, in the organization's
HCO policy letter of 18 October 1967, known as the "Fair Game Policy",
"The purpose of a lawsuit is to harass and discourage rather than
to win... Don't ever defend. Always attack. Find or manufacture enough
threat against them to cause them to sue for peace. Originate a black PR
campaign to destroy the person's repute and to discredit them so thoroughly
that they will be ostracized."
(See eg. http://www.xs4all.nl/~fonss .) This policy of the Church conflicts
with the "Profesional Ethical Responsabilities" as set out by
the American Bar Association, and with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
11 (b), as stressed upon in The American Jurist, the student magazine of
Washington College of Law, in November 1992, Vol. 5 no. 2. For the relevant
part, please see http://eng.bu.edu/~ramonk/scientology.wcl.html
It makes me sad that a respected paper such as the Daily Free Press, presents
the mere opinion of the Church of Scientology as the truth. Facts like
judge Brinkema's ruling that RTC greatly overstepped the bounds of the
search they were permitted to conduct of Lerma's home, and that RTC was
forced to drop their claims on copyright infringements to five out of seven
documents they initially claimed were illegally copied, are simply omitted
in your article.
It makes me even more sad to learn that the Chairman of the Board of Trustees
of my University is an active part of this attempt to undermine our legal
system, as a member of an organisation whose policy is to initiate lawsuits
to harrass rather than to win, and as a lawyer that brings this policy
into practice. It this the beginning of the end?
Ramon Kolb, ECS grad. student.
After my reaction on the article in the Daily Free Press, I received
the following email from Danial Adkison, the editor of the editorial page.
Isn't it sad?
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From: DFPRESS Letters
Subject: Your letter
Date: Thu, 1 Feb 1996 15:11:45 -0500 (EST)
Dear Mr. Kolb,
After reviewing our sources twice and affirming the truthfulness of the
facts we have reported, I have been instructed by the editor-in-chief not
to run your letter to the editor, due to the fact we cannot substantiate
any of the allegations in the letter, thus leaving the possibility that
we could be held liable for what we cannot prove. If you have any
questions, please contact the news editor, Sara Georgini at 232-6841.
Editorial Page Editor