We're getting serious now
a.r.s., October 4, 1995
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Karin Spaink)
Subject: DUTCH REPORT - We're getting serious now
Date: Wed, 04 Oct 1995 21:22:34 GMT
I promised updates. Well, here goes.
As of now, there are sixty-seven Fishman-homepages in the Netherlands. Some people have also put up Scarff's testimony, which is lots worse - but no copyright-claims there, just a massive 250 p. testimony which discusses illegal and criminal actions by CoS or its members, discussed in front of - or ordered by - CoS's in-house lawyers Bowles and Moxon.
On Thursday, Sept. 28, posters containing the Fishman Affidavit were spread all over the centre of Amsterdam. Well, I guess you saw the pix. They were rather quickly sprayed over with white paint. I wonder: were those faithful CoS-members ordered to keep their eyes closed while spraying? I would think so.
That same day, Oussama [the member of parliament] got a phone call from Julia Rijnvis, spokeswoman for CoS Holland. She wanted to talk to him. He asked her to come to his office at parliament; she took Martin Weightman, Director CoS European Human Rights with her. They of course asked him to take down his homepage. He flatly refused.
That same evening, Oussama Cherribi, other people I'd rather not mention, and I had a meeting. Both Oussama and I have publicly announced that we do not intend to remove the document unless a judge orders us to do so. The aforesaid 'other people' had at an early stage - when there weren't as many homepages - decided to do exactly the same, but prefer to keep their names secret. Of course we could easily get in touch, using Internet-facilities, and because we wanted to see each other in the eye about this, we arranged this evening and ended up drinking and joking, firmly convinced that we would not cave in and would support each other in any way necessary.
Also, we expected CoS would try to pick out a single person which they would sue, rather than a provider, to prevent becoming involved in a complicated case about responsibilities between providers and users. [How right that prediction turned out to be.]
Friday, Sept. 29, a prime-time television news program (2 Vandaag / 2 Today) covered the protest in a tin-minute item. They interviewed Oussama Cherribi; Felipe Rodriguez, the managing-director of xs4all; and me.
Julia Rijnvis - spokeswoman for CoS Holland - also made a short appearance and simply stated that "CoS has no intention at all to restrict freedom of speech, this is just a copyright-issue".
The program will be reworked for Internet-use, with lots of pictures and transcripts of interviews, in a scene-to-scene expose, just as an earlier program on the raid of xs4all was. See: http://www.xs4all.nl/~jaco/cos/
Rijnvis called a lot of providers last week, trying to persuade them to take down the homepages and trying to obtain addresses of participants. Nobody complied. She tried University-providers as well, but usually got lost and ended up trying to talk to unattended secretary desks.
Some university providers have meanwhile ordered their users to take down the document - for fear of legal hassle. Some users that did not comply, thereupon saw their homepage taken down. Other users took theirs down voluntarily. All in all, eight Fishman homepages ended up in The Morgue. Several university-homepages are still in working order; apparently, many universities do not mind at all.
After Rijnvis' phone calls, official letters started being sent out by Nauta Dutilh, CoS Dutch legal representatives for this case, ordering them to get rid of these homepages 'within four days, or else we will be forced to take this to court'.
Especially the smaller providers got a tad frightened and warned the users involved, sometimes urging them to take the pages down; these users complied, not wanting to blow their relation with their providers. Four pages were taken down. None of the bigger and more well-known providers have asked their users something along these lines.
Felipe Rodriguez of xs4all, who is also president of NLIP (a Dutch organisation for Internet-providers) offered all providers legal help and explained them that although xs4all had received the same letter, nothing was heard from Nauta Dutilh after xs4all's lawyer had answered it and had refuted their request. Some providers took heart and ok'ed a Rise From The Morgue.
Some participants even began speculating that, seeing that no new letters arrived after those answers, CoS or their lawyers might refrain from their promise to bring this to court. The chance that they will lose such a case is indeed rather great, in Holland...
Saturday morning, Sept. 29, I received my second e-mail from the alleged Helena Kobrin, which was a bit strange, because only a few participants had received their first and there was such a long list of people she had not yet attended to... In it, she suggested that I am somehow the big organiser behind all this (oohh, she loves conspiracy theories, doesn't she, our Helena?): "As I understand you also encouraged others to post them, I am requesting that you post a new statement encouraging others to remove them."
When I phoned Rijnvis two days ago (after various attempts of hers to reach me - she even left her private number at a newspaper I work for), she described me as the Big Organiser too - partly because of a piece I wrote earlier in my three-weekly column in a Dutch newspaper.
For the record, I have not asked anybody to post anything. I just asked people if they would please look into the situation and if they considered this protest to be a worthy thing, to put up a Fishman-homepage themselves, as many others had already done. Ever since, I am the keeper of the list of participating url's and compile a daily bulletin for all participants containing news, suggestions, questions etc, that people have send me.
And yes, because I am a public person, just like Oussama, my participation in this protest attracts more media attention than that of many other brave people, and I get mentioned a lot; also, I use my profession - writing - to explain why I think this CoS-thing is important. But seeing me as the Big Organiser is giving me far more credits - or guilt - than is called for. If anybody started this protest, it was CoS itself.
But anyway. Users' real names and their analogue addresses are hard to find, especially when providers refuse to give these to others unless forced to by a court-order. Most participants are therefore rather safe.
Apart from the more conspicuous participants, that is. This morning I received a registered letter from the postman, containing... You guessed it. They found my address. In as far as I know, they have not yet sent Oussama such a letter. Nauta Dutilh presented me with their official request to take Fishman from my homepage, due to copyright infringements; an injunction to provide any hyperlinks to other places where Fishman may be found (huh? Since when are hyperlinks considered unlawful?); and a request that I inform my provider of this letter and of my reaction; all to be complied with within three days.
Well of course I'll inform my provider. And of course I will not take down my homepage. My lawyer will answer their letter, and we will await their next step.
As will at least sixty-six other people.
Copyright Karin Spaink.
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