The Daily Free Press

The Independent Student Newspaper of Boston University

Wednesday, September 6, 1995


Of church and state

In what may be the case that sets precedent in the area of Internet copyright laws, the Church of Scientology has filed suit against former church members who have posted copyrighted church material on the Internet. Representing the Scientologists is none other than Boston University's board of trustees chairman Earle C. Cooley.

Some have criticized Cooley for being involved with the religion that many have deemed to be a cult and a money making scheme. However, these criticisms are unfounded. Cooley has asserted that he is a firm believer that all parties have a right to fair representation. Cooley is merely fulfiling the Scientologists constitutional right by representing the church.

Other criticisms of Cooley have centered around whether his involvement in the case will tarnish BU's reputation. But, the fact that Cooley has taken a risk by taking on a case that involves uncharted legal territory is all the more reason for Cooley to be the chairman of the board.

People need to take a look at the content of the case, not the people involved. The case, simply put, is that one party feels that its copyright has been infringed upon while the other feels it was merely exercising its First Amendment right to free speech. The constitution reads that "Justice is Blind", why should Cooley be exempt from this?

By standing by his ethical responsibilities and providing competent counsel, Cooley has set a fine academic example for those who plan to enter the legal profession. By getting involved in this case Cooley has the potential to set a precedent that would be beneficial to every current and future user of the Internet, including members of the BU community.

Although Cooley has not said whether or not he is a member of the church, his association with them has not brought any sort of negative influence to BU to date. Being a trustee for an institution as large as BU should not hinder Cooley's right and responsibility as a lawyer and the allegiance he owes to his clients, nor should his profession hinder him in participating in the future of BU.

By keeping his separate roles just that- separate- Cooley brings credit to both posts. However, if there ever comes a point where Cooley's involvement presents a conflict of interest, then, and only, then it would be time to call for Cooley's resignation.

This editorial appears on page 14.

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This editorial is Copyright 1995 Back Bay Publishing Co., Inc. All rights reserved. Any reproduction or retransmission, by any means, is prohibited by law. Reprinted with permission of Back Bay Publishing Co., Inc.