Dutch action covered in
Wall Street Journal Europe
a.r.s., October 12, 1995

From: kspaink@xs4all.nl (Karin Spaink)
Newsgroups: alt.religion.scientology
Subject: DUTCH action covered in Wall Street Journal Europe (10-10)
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 1995 00:26:00 GMT

The Dutch action was covered in The Wall Street Journal Europe on Tuesday, 10 oct. There is alas no mention of the fact that Fishman is a court file; the whole thing is made to appear a matter of copyrights.
The article is on page four, in the section 'Rules of the Game. Focus on law and regulation':

Scientology Case Could Set Precedent on the Internet

Bizarre legal dispute in the Netherlands could prove a test case for clearing up some of the regulation confusion prevailing on the Infobahn.

Providers of commercial Internet services in Europe are watching with keen interest as the Church of Scientology tries to stop a group of Dutch companies from spreading some of its sacred texts, material the church says is copyrighted. The Scientologists have already taken successful action to stop unauthorized on-line dissemination of the texts in the U.S. and Finland. But the Netherlands - a nation keen on defending individual liberties such as freedom of speech - is fighting back.

As many as 60 people in the Netherlands, including a member of parliament, have put up the Scientology document on their personal 'home page' on the Internet. The move follows legal action taken by the Curch against XS4ALL, an Amsterdam-based Internet access provider.

Acting on a request by the Church of Scientology, a Dutch judge last month seized computer equipment used by XS4ALL. The move was made in a bid to force XS4ALL to shut down one of its customers who was dissemminating the Scientology texts. The papers expound the intergalactic origins of mankind according to science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard.

'These are advanced materials' for the sole use of the initiated 'who've reached a higher degree of consciousness,' says a Curch of Scientology spokeswoman in Amsterdam. 'They are copyrighted and confidential.'

XS4ALL refused to comply with the church's request but the company's customer eventually withdrew the material.

The church is now battling a raft of other Internet providers. One of these is Planet Internet BV, a subsidiary of the national phone and postal company Koninklijke PTT Telecom Nederland, beter known as KPN. Planet Internet vows it won't cave in.

Lawyers and Internet specialists say this raises the question of what exactly are the rights and obligations of an Internet access provider. Some argue that the access provider's role is akin to that of a publisher, who controls what he chooses to publish and can be sued for copyright infringement or libel. Others say the access provider should be treated like a phone company, which can't control the conversations it carries on its network.

The answer may lie somewhere in the middle. In France, firms that provide services on the country's Minitel network - such as sex chatlines - have agreed to exer some amount of censorship.

written by James Pressley and Martin Du Bois

Karin Spaink

Copyright Karin Spaink.
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