A day in court
a.r.s., Februari 26, 1996
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Karin Spaink)
Subject: DUTCH report: A Day in Court
Date: Mon, 26 Feb 1996 23:02:15 GMT
When we arrived - many of the Amsterdam people went to The Hague with a rented bus - the corridor was crowded already. Altogether there were some 100, 120 people. Many had to sit on the floor. There was plenty of press: RTL (a television broadcasting company), some of the major papers, a radio program.
There were some Scientologists: I recognised Julia Rijnvis, PR for the Scientology Church Amsterdam; and Leisa Goodman, well known. There was a grey-haired, more or less distinguishing looking man, who turned out to be Warren McShane himself; and a young man, thirtyish, dark crew cut, peering eyes, spotty skin, bluish/greenish eyes, sharp
eyebrows, who seemed even more important than McShane (the translator directed her words more to him than to McShane). There were more American speaking Scientologist, plus a handful of members. The last group positioned themselves at the back of the room.
There were two lawyers for Nauta Dutilh: Hermans and Laret; three for the defense, Bakker Schut (for thirteen providers and me) and Pors & Van Manen for Planet Internet.
Before the session started, the judge - Van Delden - said that there was a television crew, and asked whether one of the parties objected to their presence, and if so, on what grounds. Nauta Dutilh did in fact do so, saying that some of the information that was to be discussed was confidential (meaning the OT-levels of course). 'That's no reason, seeing that the written press is here as well and is allowed to write about the case,' said van Delden, and dismissed their objection.
Nauta Dutilh started: Hermans took the stand and said that many people did not hold his client in high esteem, and that no matter what that criticism was worth, they have rights, among them copyrights - and that these were what was at stake here; nothing else. 'The controversial nature of my clients is irrelevant here.' He explained that, as RTC held the secrecy of these materials very dear and had a vested interest in this confidentiality, they could not allow publishing or quoting the OT's in any way whatsoever.
He came forward, motioned to McShane, who came up as well, carrying a gold coloured suitcase. They contained some copies of the hand written OT's. The President of the court could be heard to say: 'Hmm, nice suitcase.'
Hermans continued. Quoting them was unallowable, because they had
never been published by the owners of the copyright. Providers were at
least as guilty as users, because they had refused to cooperate and
had not acted upon Nauta Dutilh / RTC &c's summons. Exercising one's
copyrights had nothing to do whatsoever with stiffling criticism.
The speech was about 45 minutes.
Then Bakker Schut took the stand. He used my defense (version 2.0)
lavishly, and went on in great detail about Fair Gaming, how CoS
treats its critics, the harassment of ars, the rm-group message, the
lawsuits. He explained how members were not allowed to see these
'secret' scriptures until they 'have reached the right moral level'
and explained about the money that went on in CoS. He explained about
OT 2 and about OT 3 - the complete Xenu story. He explained about the
recent warnings given and measures taken by the German goverment, and
quoted extensively from the brochure issued by the German government
(causing the translators a bit of a problem - they couldn't understand
his German quotes and were not able to translate those for the
Americans.) He explained how the OT's ended up in a court file and
that they had leaked before; he explained that quoting parts of them
was not only a right and fair use, it was also a right defended by
both freedom of speech and public interest
A 60 minute speech. It was one o'clock.
A short 15 minute break.
During the break both Felipe and I were interviewed by RTL
television; they turned out to have made a three minutes item in their
Pors, for Planet Internet, took the stand, explaining that he did
not want to elaborate upon Scientology but only wanted to talk about
the position of the providers. They had noty been given evidence by
plaintiffs to prove the alleged infringement; I had been able to
explain to them that there was reason to doubt the infringement, so
what were they to do? Tied up between their duties towards their
subscribers and the complaints of an outsider. And only now, last
week, RTC and NEPI had provided them with partial proof. Which only
showed that it pays not to listen to RTC etc too soon - their claim
was now much smaller than it had been earlier.
Also, there were indeed serious doubts about the copyrights. There
was a tangled maze of transfers and licences and personal rights -
i.e. the right not to have them published - were not among the
inherited or transferred rights. (Didn't really get this part but it
sounded very legalese and impressive.)
His colleague, Van Manen, went on about jurisprudence (in fact
stating there was none), cutting away all the ground Nauta Dutilh's
lawyers had covered. And if these papers were indeed copyrighted,
there was indeed a right to quote from them. If I was the one
responsible for the homepage - the publisher of the page - it was
surely within my rights to quote, and quotes could be lavish,
considering the special nature of the case. All very technical.
Pors summed up his argument. If I was responsible for my homepage,
certain rights were mine, amongst them the right to quote and to make
use of my freedom of speech. And if the providers were to be held
responsible for my homepage, surely in that case they were the
publishers, and the same rights should fall to them, in case there was
again nothing wrong whatsoever with my homepage as it now was.
Three o'clock. A 30 minute break.
During the break, MsShane and Goodman were agitated.
Replies by both parties. Nauta Dutilh repeated their statements,
our laywers did; both parties expanding their arguments and throwing
in some new ones.
The judge interrupted him and said that while eating pepperminst
in church was probably common, he surely forbade the audience in his
court to eat candybars. (He referred to our Amercican guests.) 'I will
not allow that in my court.'
Bakker Schut again explained about the OT's - having them
available was a matter of public interest because so many people had
encountered psychological problems over them. (Both this time and
before, when he mentioned OT 3, some CoS members could be seen
stuffing their fingers in their ears. They did not want to hear this.)
The two lawyers from Planet Internet again. Very quick, very
terse, very explicit.
When the president of the court was about to adjourn the meeting at
16:30, Hermans got up and said: 'Condering the great number of
accusations that have been thrown at my client, could mr McShane
please be allowed to speak and counter them?' 'NO,' said the judge,
'YOU were the one who started your speech saying that the
controversial nature of your clients was not an issue here anyway.'
Verdict due on Tuesday, March 12, 14:00.
We are optimistic.
When we were in the Internet Cafe, we learned that DDS and Cistron had
been served with subpoenas for full proceedings. When I got home, I
found I had one too. Same defendants, same plaintiffs.
Copyright Karin Spaink.
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