Questions and Answers:
Religious freedom, copyright law
and trade secret protections
on the Internet

      Church of Scientology organizations have filed suit against a number of individuals and organizations for copyright and trade secrets violations on the Internet. The following questions and answers explain why the Church has found it necessary to take these actions and addresses specific questions which have been raised about the issues of copyright infringement, trade secrets violations and religious freedom, as it applies to these cases.

Answers

Why does the Church use copyright and trade secret law to protect its scriptures?

      While Scientologists respect the religious beliefs of others, the Scientology religion includes the core belief and practice that the spiritual destiny—indeed, the very salvation of every man, woman, and child in the universe—depends upon the precise application of Scientology religious technology exactly as set forth in Scientology scripture by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the religion.

      Trade secret and copyright laws are the secular vehicle to protect the core religious precepts of the Church. When these trade secret rights and copyrights are violated, so are the First Amendment rights of all Scientologists.

      The advanced scriptures of the Church have been confidential scriptures from the moment the information they contain was discovered and recorded in writing by Mr. Hubbard (see “Why does the Church keep certain of its scriptures confidential?”). Mr. Hubbard created these works for religious use by a few advanced Scientology churches and their parishioners, only when those parishioners had attained a specific level of spiritual progress.

      It is not at all uncommon for religious organizations to copyright their texts in order to protect them from alteration and misuse. For example, the Gideon Bible found in almost every hotel room in the United States carries a copyright notice. In the preface to the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, you will find the following:

      “Because of unhappy experience with unauthorized publication in the two decades between 1881 and 1901, which tampered with the text of the English Revised Version in the supposed interest of the American public, the American Standard Version was copyrighted, to protect the text from unauthorized changes.”

      The Church of Scientology has the same motive for copyrighting its own religious works: to safeguard the integrity of its scriptures.

      It is also far from unprecedented for religious organizations to go to court to defend the purity of their message and materials. Among religions which have done so are the Methodist Church, the Church of Christ, Scientist and the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.

      As far back as the early 1940s, bishops of the Methodist Church, acting on behalf of themselves and the Church, brought suit against certain former members who had set up a rival Church organization and were claiming the right to the property and to th e use of the name of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (the previous name of the Methodist Church prior to a union with two other Methodist Churches).

      The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals found in favor of the Methodist Church, ruling that:

      “The constitutional right of men to worship God does not give them the right in doing so to make use of a name which will enable them to appropriate goodwill which has been built up by a religious society with which they are no longer connected.”

      And, in a 1986 case involving the First Church of Christ, Scientist, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia noted that “Religious works are eligible for protection under general copyright laws, and for decades Science and Health [the central theological text of the Christian Science faith] was unproblematically the beneficiary of that security, as more than thirty editions and translations of the Bible currently are.”

     

Why does the Church keep certain of its scriptures confidential?

      Although the vast majority of Scientology literature is available to be read and studied by anyone, the materials covering the most advanced levels of religious counseling are restricted to those who have already attained certain specified, earlier levels in their spiritual progression.

      The belief and practice of preserving the confidentiality of these scriptures is as fundamental to Scientology as the belief in the Resurrection is to Protestants, as a literal interpretation of the Bible is to Fundamentalist Christianity, as strict adherence to the dietary laws of the Torah is to certain Jewish groups or as the belief in the absolute sanctity of life—including fetal life—is to a devout Catholic.

      It is a central belief of all Scientologists that people must be properly prepared—spiritually and ethically—to receive these materials and that premature exposure would impede the spiritual development of individuals so exposed, an outcome that is inimical to the goal of Scientology—the achievement of spiritual freedom for everyone living on this planet.

      To gain access to these materials, more is expected of a Scientologist than spiritual advancement. Access is not automatic, nor is it dependent solely upon donations . It is by invitation only. That invitation is extended to parishioners who have demonstrated a high level of ethical responsibility as well as completed certain prior steps of spiritual attainment. This is so that people of ill-will with motives antipathetic to Scientology cannot use the materials for purposes contrary to the goal of spiritual freedom which proper use of these religious works brings about.

      As religious scholars have pointed out, the Church’s practice of keeping a segment of its materials confidential has well-established precedents in other religions.

      According to Dr. M. Darrol Bryant at the University of Waterloo in Ontario:

      “The distinction between ’esoteric knowledge’ available only to initiates, and ’exoteric knowledge’ available to all, has long been part of the religious life of humankind. The distinction is commonly based on the belief that only those initiated in a particular tradition or having achieved a certain level of spiritual development should have access to the esoteric or higher teachings.”

      Dr. Lonnie Kliever of Southern Methodist University also finds this distinction in religions and cites in particular ancient Judaism, early Christianity, some forms of Hinduism, Zen Buddhism and Gnostic groups. Dr. Kliever characterizes the Church of Scientology as having “a [] religious duty and legal right” to keep some of its materials confidential.

      Rev. Dean Kelley of the National Council of Churches in the U.S.A. quotes examples from the Bible to illustrate the principle of keeping advanced spiritual knowledge from adherents who are not yet ready to understand or utilize it. Two biblical quotes which he used are:

      “But I, brethren, could not address you as spiritual men, but as men of the flesh, as babes in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready, for you are still of the flesh (I Corinthians 3:1-2, Revised Standard Version).”

      “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of God’s word. You need milk, not solid food; for every one who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil (Hebrews 5:12-14, Revised Standard Version).

      Dr. Bryan Wilson, Reader Emeritus in Sociology at Oxford University in England and one of the world’s most distinguished students of religion, points to numerous historical examples of religions which maintain scriptures that are accessible only to selected initiates. He interprets this practice as “a broad educational principle of not exposing to advanced ideas those who have not yet demonstrated their mastery of elementary principles.” Dr . Wilson concludes that to introduce advanced Scientology materials prematurely to the Scientology student would be “disruptive of his progress in attaining the enlightened consciousness towards which all his endeavours are directed.”

      Dr. Jeffrey K. Hadden, author of numerous books on religion and Professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia, has explained that a religion’s right to keep certain of its scriptures confidential is constitutionally protected:

      “To deny a religious group the right to protect its esoteric knowledge, indeed its most sacred texts, runs contrary to history and the American experience. It constitutes a denial of that group the protection of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.”

      Many other treatises, authored by similarly distinguished experts in religion, portray numerous religions throughout the ages which have maintained confidential scriptures that were revealed only after specific stages of religious learning had been completed.

     

How did these materials comes into the hands of opponents of the Church?

      By theft. The Church has never published its advanced religious scriptures or allowed them to leave its custody and copies of any part of them that exist outside the Church were obtained illicitly.

      More than a decade ago, a few people conspired to steal and did steal some of the materials as part of a plan to start a competitive church. The Church took immediate action. The stolen materials were seized. The leader of this band of thieves was later arrested in Denmark, where the theft had taken place. He was convicted for the theft and, after serving time in prison, was deported. The same result – prison—awaits the other thieves should they ever return to Denmark.

      However, before such arrest and prosecution occurred, the thieves had transmitted copies of the stolen materials to a group of apostates in the United States. From time to time, these thieves and their associates have attempted to disseminate these materials, but have been prevented from doing so by the Church. The outcome has included raids, seizures and also judgements affirming that the confidential, unpublished scriptures are protected by copyright and trade secrets laws.

      Eventually, this tiny clique of apostates connived to dump a small portion of the materials into a court file and later posted this portion to the Internet. (See also “How can it be a copyright and trade secrets violation to publish extracts from documents obtained from a court, as the Washington Post did?” and “Is the Church’s trade secret claim weakened because of its opponents’ claim that parts of the confidential, unpublished scriptures had been exposed to the public before?”).

      Law and justice require that these thieves be enjoined from using or distributing the materials that they have stolen and that these materials be returned to their rightful owner, the Church. These individuals are exactly the kind of people who would not be given access by the Church to these materials because they are spiritually unprepared and ethically unworthy. Religious practices are the exclusive province of the faithful and of ecclesiastical precepts, not of apostates and criminals who declare war on religion.

     

How can the materials covering the most advanced levels of spiritual counseling in Scientology legally be trade secrets?

      According to The Uniform Trade Secrets Act:

      “’Trade Secret’ means information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process, that:

      “1) Derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from being generally known to the public or to other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use; and

      “2) Is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.”

      The Church considers its advanced levels of religious counseling confidential and has obtained rulings in federal court that they are to be afforded trade secret status.

      In May 1993, the US District Court in San Diego, in a case in which three Church of Scientology organizations brought suit against an individual who had misappropriated Scientology materials, held that, “information contained in religious organizations’ materials was trade secret... [and] was disclosed only to those who had acquired requisite level of spiritual training.... The court finds that as a matter of law, plaintiffs’ ’Advanced Technology’ qualifies as a trade secret, and that no factual dispute exists regarding defendant’s misappropriation of these works through the courses offered to her students.”

      The court also found that the Church had taken all reasonable steps to keep the materials secure.

      That judgment is now final.

      Furthermore, in a separate case in 1985, Judge Mariana Pfaelzer of the United States District Court of the Central District of California stated that, “the body of material that is at issue here clearly meets the definition of a trade secret and of a set of trade secrets, and I don’t have any trouble finding definitions in the Ninth Circuit that would clearly make it a trade secret.”

Is the Church of Scientology concerned that it would suffer economic harm if other groups or individuals started offering its confidential scriptures to the public?

      Like any other religious, non-profit group, to maintain its operations the Church must receive funds, which come in the form of donations for services and materials. The small group of apostates who have illegally posted a portion of the Church’s advanced scriptures to the Internet are trying to render the value of the secret scriptures nil by making them easily and readily available in an out of context fashion in a manner intended to hold the content of these materials up to derision. Their aim is to discourage people from seeking to learn this material according to procedures mandated by Church scriptures. Further, competing churches have arisen in the past, and while each was ultimately a failure, the apostates who fail to live up to the Church’s standards but still crave its teaching will attempt to compete again. It was just such an effort to create a competing church that led to the theft of these materials in 1983 and the imprisonment of one of the thieves.

      Financial considerations are one of the issues. The Church is also interested in: a) protecting its intellectual property rights, b) maintaining the purity and workability of Scientology religious materials and c) protecting parishioners.

      The Church encourages the widest possible dissemination of Scientology publications containing all the Scientology scriptures other than its confidential, unpublished materials, which comprise a small fraction of the scriptures of the religion. In addition to the many public information actions described later, we have donated thousands of copies of Scientology books and materials to public libraries. This has been done to make it possible for individuals with limited financial means to learn and apply Scientology principles to their lives without having to pay anything. Our library donation program has proved extremely successful. In fact, it has been calculated that every 29.5 seconds, somewhere in the world, a person checks out a Scientology book from a library.

How can it be a copyright and trade secrets violation to publish extracts from documents obtained from a court, as the Washington Post did?

      As the copyright expert quoted by the Post itself stated, just because a document is filed in court does not mean that it loses copyright protection. If John Grisham’s latest novel is filed in a court case, for example, he does not thereby lose the copyright.

      The same principle applies to trade secrets. There is no “fair use” of trade secrets. In fact, in 1984, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled against the Washington Post when the paper sought to obtain confidential materials from a court file. In Tavoulareas v. The Washington Post Co, the court ruled that:

      “Public dissemination of confidential discovery materials not used at trial cannot be justified by a common law or constitutional right of access or by First Amendment right of free speech or free press.”

      The document that the Post obtained containing the Church’s protected materials had been dumped into the court file after the case was dismissed, solely as a tactical maneuvre to make it accessible to the media as a “public document” and so pressurise the Church into “paying off” the other side, to prejudice the judge against the Church in the post-trial fees and costs determinations and probably to inflame other members of the judiciary . These materials played no part in any judicial decision in the case and the judge expressly excluded consideration of them on the post-trial issues. The mere presence of the documents in a court file provided no basis whatsoever for their copying. As soon as the judge was informed that the Post had obtained copies of the materials, he sealed the file.

     

Is it not unusual for U.S. Marshals to conduct raids to enable private organizations to conduct seizures of copyrighted materials?

      No, not at all. Copyright law specifically and routinely allows such orders imposed on an infringer who has violated copyrights and has refused all requests to cease and desist.

      Last year, for example, Microsoft Corporation announced that as a result of raids in California, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Texas and Virginia, more than 13,000 counterfeit packages and numerous components were seized. In 1995, Microsoft’s seizures of bootleg copies of their software have continued and in April, U.S. Marshals seized computers, modems, a satellite dish and various databases in a raid on a pirate bulletin board.

      In 1994, after the Business Software Alliance (BSA), representing companies such as Aldus, Lotus and Word Perfect, obtained an order for a raid by federal marshals on the Colorado Free University (CFU) in Denver for software piracy, the CFU paid $60, 000 to settle the case.

      The BSA says it has filed more than 400 suits and conducted hundreds of raids against suspected copyright infringers. The potential damages can reach $100,000 for each willful copyright infringement. In criminal cases, the offender may face charges carrying penalties up to $250,000 and a prison term of up to five years.

      In 1992, the Software Publishers Association (SPA) filed 175 suits and recovered $3.4 million in settlements. Currently the SPA is investigating 1,600 cases of suspected copyright infringement.

      And, it is not just software manufacturers who have resorted to seizures to protect their rights. Disney, Reebok, Harley Davidson, Warner Brothers and many other companies have also done so.

     

Are the raids a violation of due process?

      Not in the least. Copyright law is part of the United States Constitution and predates the Bill of Rights and the Amendments. The Constitution authorizes Congress:

      To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.

      The raids have been carried out precisely according to copyright law and in accordance with the orders signed by the judges in each case. Copyrighted material seized in these raids is not the property of the infringers but has been unlawfully obtained by them, and belongs to the Church. Any non-infringing material is returned to its owner.

      Where further infringements seem likely, a temporary restraining order is imposed to prevent these until a hearing can be held to determine the propriety of injunctive relief, whether temporary or permanent.

Are not the raids an extreme form of action to handle a problem?

      Unfortunately, the Church’s efforts to handle the problem short of a raid and seizure had all been bluntly rebuffed by the infringers themselves. Every one of them was on notice that he was in violation of copyright and trade secrets law by making illegal postings of the Church’s protected materials. In each case, they continued their infringing actions nonetheless. One of the infringers, Dennis Erlich, even boasted on the Internet that no court had the power to make him cease his unlawful postings.

      Knowing that any attempt by the Church to dialogue, even a casual contact, was deliberately mislabelled, the Church sent two middle-aged women to talk to another of the infringers, Arnaldo Lerma. Lerma was rude to the ladies and refused to talk to them.

      Bulletin board systems operator Tom Klemesrud hung the phone up on a Church attorney who had called him to express her concerns that one of his clients was violating copyrights in some of his posts—even though Klemesrud’s own BBS regulations prohibit users from engaging in such activity.

What guarantee do the infringers have that non-infringing information on their disks and files won’t be compromised?

      The disks are examined by independent computer experts who have no affiliation with the Church. The purpose of the searches is to locate the infringing material.

      Other protections have been implemented pursuant to court rulings, where appropriate. For example, following the raid and seizure at the premises of Larry Wollersheim, Wollersheim’s attorneys were told by the judge that they could send their own computer expert or attorneys over to observe the search of the seized materials. They declined to do so, however.

      Of course, the copyright infringers themselves are the ones who have created this problem for themselves, if it exists. First, by breaking the law. Second, by mixing infringing and non-infringing materials together in their disks and files. When this point was brought up before the judge in the Wollersheim case, he stated that he did not know how to separate “the wheat from the chaff” other than by searching the materials.

How is this not a freedom of speech issue?

      Free speech does not mean free theft.

      Violators of copyright and trade secret laws traditionally try to hide behind free speech and illegitimate “fair use” claims and United States courts regularly reject such claims in upholding copyrights. The Church is a strong proponent of free speech, knows and cherishes the First Amendment and has defended human rights all over the world. We have been publishing our own investigative magazine, Freedom, since 1968. When in the 1970s, long before anti-apartheid was the vogue, we exposed human rights atrocities committed against blacks in South Africa, our magazine was banned by the then South African government. However, independent investigation by the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed what Freedom had reported. In Australia, Scientologists fought for more than a decade to expose atrocious human rights abuses in a psychiatric hospital in Chelmsford near Sydney. Their dogged persistence in the face of psychiatric opposition and official apathy was the decisive factor in eventually bringing about a Royal Commission of Enquiry, as the Australian media recognized. The two-year enquiry uncovered 183 patient deaths and recommended a thorough shake-up of mental health care in New South Wales, along with a mental health bill of rights.

      The Church also recognizes that individual rights such as freedom of speech were not developed to protect wrongdoers from the consequences of their unlawful actions . Otherwise an extortionist could hide behind freedom of speech. An obscene phone caller could hide behind freedom of speech. People phoning in bomb threats could hide behind freedom of speech.

      Nobody has the right to cloak themselves in the First Amendment to break the law. The Constitution is not a fortress for criminals. In fact, it is their unlawful acts, which they justify with First Amendment excuses, which destroy our constitutional rights.

      To work for freedom of speech in the world is a part of the Church’s creed. And it does have to be worked for. Unless free speech and other basic liberties are constantly fought for and made real, they exist only on paper and will eventually be trampled by vested interests.

      Concerned at the gradual erosion of civil liberties in the United States and other countries, Scientologists have actively campaigned to protect and preserve our basic freedoms. Knowing that misinformation about individuals in government files can harm or ruin lives, the Church has spearheaded the rights of citizens to gain access to government documents about themselves. From its beginning, we have advocated widespread use of the Freedom of Information Act and have campaigned against efforts to narrow its application. And, when Freedom of Information legislation was passed in France, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Italy and Belgium, members of the Church played a decisive role to bring these laws about.

      In the 1970s, the Church published a popular booklet that briefs Americans on their rights under the Act and instructs them on its use. The booklet was updated in 1989 and requests for copies continue to come in every week. In the courts, the Church has established precedents that hold the government accountable to release information to the public on a variety of subjects.

      Through Freedom magazine, the human rights journal which the Church has published since 1968, the Church has awarded and acknowledged numerous individuals who, often against substantial odds, have helped preserve and strengthen our civil liberties. Among those honored by Freedom have been outstanding human rights advocate Dr. Arthur A. Fletcher, then chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; syndicated columnist Jack Anderson, who has been remorseless in his exposes of corruption in high places; and former Congressman John Moss, father of the Freedom of Information Act.

      Noted American author and expert on US intelligence matters, Victor Marchetti, after examining the Church’s unprecedented efforts to protect citizens’ rights, declared, “I would like to commend the Church of Scientology for its faith in itself and its determination to work within the constitutional system of our nation.... By its tenacity and determination, the Church of Scientology has forced [the] government to adhere to the Constitution.”

How have the infringers responded to the Church’s legal actions against them?

      They have predictably attempted to divert attention from their illegal actions through efforts at disinformation, especially to the media.

      These individuals acted as if they believed that they could get away with breaking the law. It is not surprising that they howl in protest now they have at last been caught. Underneath the furore they seek to create, however, lies this fact: Following every raid and seizure the Church has discovered abundant evidence of copyrights and trade secrets violations. Searches of materials seized from the premises of Larry Wollersheim and Bob Penny, for example, have resulted in the discovery of hundreds of infringements.

      Copyright and trade secret violators are simply thieves and liars who often masquerade as “critics.” Imagine someone stole the lyrics to an unpublished song from you and sent them out over the Internet, in violation of your rights. When the law catches up with the thief, he defends himself saying you are attempting to silence him because he is a “critic.” Of course he is a critic—no friend would steal what belongs to you.

      The Church has taken no action against critical messages about Scientology posted on the Internet—it has only taken action where postings have violated its copyrights and trade secrets. There are thousands of messages about Scientology on the Internet every day. There is a tremendous desire among people both on and off the Internet to know more about Scientology. In response to this demand, Leisa Goodman, Media Relations Director for the Church of Scientology International, has put up her own “home page” which contains basic information about Scientology. This site, which receives “hits” daily from all over the world, is located at http://www.scientology.org/goodman.

By filing these copyright suits, has not the Church publicized obscure posters who would otherwise have been ignored and eventually forgotten about?

      One could equally claim that by arresting computer hackers, one gives them publicity as their arrests are reported in the newspapers. Many people never heard of Kevin Mitnick until he was caught.

      If no action were taken in the face of patently illegal conduct, then crime would soon reach uncontrollable proportions leading eventually to chaos. That is why we have laws.

      Also, it is the responsibility of intellectual property owners to enforce their rights or risk losing them.

      The Church would far prefer that it did not have to sue. However, it is prepared to take the legal actions necessary to protect the Church’s rights, if measures short of litigation are unsuccessful. Every major battle that the Church of Scientology has engaged upon throughout its history to secure the rights of its parishioners has ultimately been won. The Church is confident that it will win these ones, too.

Access providers are named in the ongoing suits. But how can an access provider monitor every message sent to a newsgroup?

      No one expects them to. They are being asked to take action on complaints that they receive, which is the traditional way in which access providers have in the past dealt with suspected lawbreakers on the Internet.

      An access provider has a responsibility to promulgate rules of conduct for its users and to enforce their rules. Most access providers have such rules and enforce them in a range of situations. While it can be argued that access providers have no responsibility for controlling the tremendous flow of information through their systems, when evidence is presented of infringement of intellectual property rights, then access providers have a responsibility to take action. Moreover, when a particular user has shown a repeated pattern of abuse, the person should be removed from the system, or the access provider held liable for any damage created.

      The precise mechanics of such a system of self regulation are beyond the parameters of this question and answer format. However, if such a system were developed in cooperation among access providers and copyright owners, it would work and would benefit the entire Internet community.

How can a service provider or BBS tell whether a message is copyrighted or not and so make the decision not to forward it to the newsgroup?

      Access providers do not have to decide if the message is a copyright violation.

      Systems operators are not a judge or jury and are not expected to act like one. The time-honored way of handling such matters on the Internet is for the sysops to act when they receive complaints. When a user’s actions are generating complaints, sysops should and often do act when necessary to prevent copyright infringement, pornography, or other postings which are illegal, tortious or otherwise objectionable. If the complaint cannot be easily sorted out between the poster and complainant, accounts are frequently suspended while a complaint is investigated.

      When the Internet was started about 25 years ago, a set of ground rules were established among users which defined what “good citizenship” on the Internet is. Certain categories of behavior were deemed “bad citizenship” and were discouraged primarily by peer pressure. Such undesirable behavior included advertising for monetary gain, profane language, personal attacks, broadcast of stolen personal or confidential materials and any activities prohibited by U.S. law. As pointed out by Dr. Alfonso F. Cardenas , author of several books on computer subjects and Professor of the Computer Science department of UCLA:

      “In general, University Network access providers do continue efforts of assuring good citizenship by their users, students, professors and staff.... Several million of us users expect this. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of a number of new access providers. Many of the worst offenders are now some irresponsible BBSses, often a person with a small PC operating out of a room or garage.”

How have other service providers responded when violations of the Church’s copyrights by users of their systems were brought to their attention?

      Service providers have generally been responsive to the Church’s requests to take action against copyright violators. Major universities such as Bristol, Carnegie Mellon and Denver promptly issued warnings to the offender. Others conducted an ethics hearing on the user or took some other form of action. Other service providers have sent strong messages to the unlawful poster that a single recurrence would lead to termination of his or her account.

     

What damage would be done if the advanced scriptures were broadly released?

      To release these materials to individuals who have not completed requisite prior steps of religious study and counseling could be disruptive of their progress towards the greater spiritual freedom they can achieve through Scientology.

      This applies not only to those currently participating in Scientology religious services but to everyone who may do so in the future. The goal of the Scientology religion is not to create ultimate spiritual freedom merely for anyone who is a Scientologist today. It is to create ultimate spiritual freedom for everyone on the planet. This cannot happen if people with no right or interest in reaching that goal are permitted to usurp the ability to decide how the scriptures are handled.

      Professor Lonnie Kliever, Professor of Religious Studies at Southern Methodist University in Texas, has explained why advanced-level spiritual truths cannot simply be dumped on people:

      “Religious educators have long recognized that one cannot just transmit esoteric religious doctrine willy-nilly... Wholesale revelation of higher level truths may even be destructive of a person’s growth in faith.”

      Professor Kliever goes on to explain that in many religions certain doctrines are withheld until the person is able to receive them “in the context of a maturer faith.”

Is the church’s trade secret claim weakened because of its opponents’ claim that parts of the confidential, unpublished scriptures had been exposed to the public before?

      Not in the least.

      Precedents in law establish that even if part of a trade secret has appeared in public, the right to that trade secret still exists. In a 1991 case, Shalk v Texas, two former employees of Texas Instruments had been convicted of violating Texas criminal trade secret law by copying disks containing trade secret information. They appealed, arguing that the company had forfeited its trade secret rights by publicizing information in articles, seminars and public meetings. The court upheld the convictions. It found that the measures Texas Instruments had taken to maintain secrecy were adequate and that the ex-employees had copied the information without permission.

      In another case, Colony Corporation of America v Crown Glass Corp, the court ruled in 1981 that if a third party knowingly misappropriates a trade secret, having come by the information through another’s wrongdoing, he is liable to the same degree as the original violator.

      Further, courts have held, as in Computer Print Systems v Lewis, that organizations have a right to expect that those obtaining authorized access will not disclose trade secrets. The Church has never given permission for confidential, unpublished scriptures to be made public and has always taken detailed and stringent measures to preserve their confidentiality. These materials have never passed into unauthorized hands in any form except through theft or misappropriation.

Does the Church disseminate any portion of its religious texts widely?

      We certainly do. The vast majority of Scientology literature is available for anyone to study. In fact, the Church of Scientology is probably, member for member, the most active religion in the world in making its beliefs and practices available for discussion and use. Scientology materials are available in more than 120 countries and in upwards of 31 languages.

      The encyclopedic volume, What Is Scientology?, available in every Church bookstore, contains a comprehensive description of the religion, its beliefs, practices, creeds, codes, social reform and community betterment activities and much, much more. Eight hundred and thirty-three pages in length, it also contains a complete listing of the books, taped lectures and films that comprise the scriptures of the religion. One hundred and forty pages are devoted to the background and origin of Scientology; thirty-six pages describe its principles and application; seventy-three pages discuss in detail a myriad of specific religious services. The book also contains an exposition of how Scientology churches are organized and operated; a full explanation of the graduated steps to spiritual freedom; a chapter on “What Occurs in a Church of Scientology”; recommendations as to how a new parishioner should proceed in Scientology and why; answers to common questions; the axioms (basic principles) of Scientology and a great deal more.

      Copies of What Is Scientology? have been donated to libraries all over the world.

      Its companion volume, The Scientology Handbook, eight hundred and seventy-one pages in length, is devoted to covering in detail various practices of Scientology, expounding on their use and providing instruction on their application. Again, copies are available in all Church bookstores and have been donated to libraries all over the world. Anyone can read this book, discuss it and try out the practical applications of Scientology given in the book.

      Further, more than 40 different books and hundreds of taped lectures on Dianetics and Scientology by the Founder, L. Ron Hubbard, are available in Church bookshops. A number of these books, such as the bestselling Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, may also be purchased at bookstores throughout the United States and numerous other countries.

      This does not even include the various booklets and brochures that the Church has published to help explain the Scientology religion to interested people. Nor does it touch on the numerous tapes, videos and television advertisements that are used to make basic principles of Scientology as widely known as possible.

What is the Church’s viewpoint on anonymity on the Internet?

      While anonymity does have some uses, it carries with it a major liability: Anonymity precludes responsibility and accountability.

      As Walter S. Mossberg wrote in the Wall Street Journal, computerized discussion forums “... are a publishing medium, like newspapers and magazines, where messages are posted for days or weeks for millions to see and debate. When these forums operate under the cloak of anonymity, it’s no different from printing a newspaper in which the bylines are admittedly fake, and the letters to the editor are untraceable. It sure makes it easier to spread wild conspiracy theories, smear people, conduct financial scams or victimize others sexually.”

      An individual can, untraceably, traffic in child pornography, infringe copyrighted works, spread false and libelous information on bulletin boards and even read and answer another person’s mail.

      A remedy to stem the abuse may take the form of requiring those who “remail” messages to identify actual sources of anonymous postings that violate the law. These remailers may then be held responsible for unlawful postings when necessary. Treating anonymity in this way aligns with current practices in other communications media. In news reporting, for example, publishers have long been free to print information from anonymous sources, but are still deemed responsible for the accuracy of their publications.

      Alternatively, users may need to provide some form of identification or registration on their communications. The point is that the names of individuals who post anonymously should be available for purposes of law enforcement if it turns out that a tort or a crime has been committed. Otherwise, anonymity can easily become a refuge for criminals and those who would use it to violate the legal rights of others.

      With such a solution applied to the Internet, citizens would have protection from rip-offs and other unlawful activity. To make protecting oneself possible, federal regulations which limit the quality of encryption systems should be disposed of, so that computers, software and networks can be safe.

      Ultimately, the solution lies in making sure the few abusers of on-line services do not act—nor are permitted to act—above the law.

Does the Church support government regulation of the Internet to curb abuses?

      No. Existing legislation, perhaps with some amendments to take account of the uniqueness of the Internet as a communications medium, contains the remedies for abuses. But ultimately, the solution lies in encouraging ethical and responsible use of this dynamic and promising medium by service providers, BBSes and users.

What is the Task Force for Responsibility and Freedom on the Internet?

      This is a group established by the Church of Scientology to encourage users in responsible and ethical use of the Internet by adopting voluntary guidelines for Internet use.

      For more information, contact the Task Force at its on-line address: http://www.scientology.org/trfn.

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