Letter to the Editor re: "BU trustee wins copyright lawsuit for Scientologists"


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 so!

To: The Editor of the Daily Free Press

Dear Sir,

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

                Ramon Kolb.

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", read:

"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?

From letters@dfpress.com Thu Feb 1 15:10:50 1996
Received: from mail.FOUR.net by engc.bu.edu (8.6.9/Spike-2.1)
id PAA07197; Thu, 1 Feb 1996 15:10:49 -0500
Received: (from dfletter@localhost) by mail.FOUR.net (99.99/99.99) id PAA00637 for ramonk@engc.bu.edu; Thu, 1 Feb 1996 15:11:46 -0500
From: DFPRESS Letters
Message-Id: <199602012011.PAA00637@mail.FOUR.net>
Subject: Your letter
To: ramonk@engc.bu.edu
Date: Thu, 1 Feb 1996 15:11:45 -0500 (EST)
Content-Type: text
Content-Length: 504
Status: RO

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.

Sincerely yours,
Danial Adkison
Editorial Page Editor