Church of Scientology rewrites history.
September 21, 2002 8:18 AM   Subscribe

Church of Scientology rewrites history., a site which archives the Internet for historical purposes, has been forced to block ALL archived material for, which contains "copyrighted" church information. The DMCA requires an immediate takedown of this kind of content, but it can be restored rapidly if the content owner ( appeals the decision and decides to fight the ruling. If so, it could be the undoing of the CoS, whose copyrights are highly suspect. Until now, the cost of fighting the CoS has forced defendants to settle, but there are good people out there who might see this as the perfect opportunity to act. Anyone up for a little pro bono work?!
posted by insomnia_lj (27 comments total)
Except anyone can "force" to stop archiving material and block archive access to older files. It's called a robots.txt file.
posted by xeney at 8:27 AM on September 21, 2002

There's a difference between asking not to archive your site (robots.txt good), and forcing them to stop archiving someone else's site (DMCA bad).
posted by fuzz at 8:31 AM on September 21, 2002

By the way, if you do a search on Google for Scientology, you'll notice a bunch of pay-per-click ads that the CoS has purchased...

Are you thinking what I'm thinking? ;->
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:44 AM on September 21, 2002

So, if I host content from a copyrighted site on a non-usa server I am not affected by the DMCA, but if then caches my site, is violating the DMCA?

posted by DBAPaul at 8:45 AM on September 21, 2002

Wait, I'm slightly confused, since there's no actually story about this incident. is a leading anti-CoS site... you're saying that CoS forced archive to block a site that they do not even own, because they disagree with its contents?

Just clearing this up because I'm not 100% sure what we're arguing about here.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:53 AM on September 21, 2002

Exactly. was forced by the scientologists to not only block all of the archives for, but apparently for several other websites as well which we aren't aware of yet, presumably because of copyright violations. recently discovered this, so it is unknown exactly when took down the content, though I suspect it was within the last month or so.

Read this Usenet post for more information.
posted by insomnia_lj at 9:02 AM on September 21, 2002

There is a very long tradition of secret teachings in spiritual traditions. There are some good reasons for this, IMO, but, still, most of the once secret teachings are now out in the open, in books or in cyberspace. No Buddhists or Wiccans or Hindus seem too upset about this, though.

So why are the Scientologists so crazed about their secrets being aired?

One, they prefer to charge many many thousands of dollars to learn these secrets.

Two, these "secrets" make their "religion" appear to be the loony ravings of a pulp science fiction writer.
posted by kozad at 9:03 AM on September 21, 2002

Xeney, the robots.txt file only works for your own site; there's no way that CoS could block archiving of someone else's site, unless they were able to hack their webserver's robots.txt file or they were able to threaten legal action with the backing of a specious piece of legislation to get to block access on the service end of things.

This is pretty disgusting, I have to agree...
posted by delfuego at 9:30 AM on September 21, 2002

anyone who's followed this from way back in the day might like to know that karin from xs4all was raided the other day.
posted by andrew cooke at 9:51 AM on September 21, 2002

Yeah, I understand now, and it is disturbing. I'm not familiar with so the first post didn't make any sense to me.

On the other hand, surely there has to be SOME way to get improperly reproduced copyrighted material out of; I think the problem goes back to Scientology's abuse of the legal system to define its copyrights, not what did here. If someone steals your work and posts it on their website, you shouldn't have to go to court to get to remove it from their archives.
posted by xeney at 9:54 AM on September 21, 2002

Insomnia - Someone already thought of your idea!

There was a big controversy about 6 months ago regarding Google ads and the CoS. Google will not let people buy anti-scientology ads, or anti-anything ads. So they started blocking all of's ads.

The official Google response is:
Anti-scientology ads are disapproved per our policy of no ads that advertise "sites that advocate against any individual, group, or organization." All of your ads link to the same set of sites which are anti-scientologist in purpose.

We are not being overly strict with the anti-scientologists. We disapprove ads linking to sites that advocate against any individual, organization, or group. These ads do not adhere to the larger purpose of AdWords -- to advertise businesses, services, and products. Google Groups is the proper venue for opinionated dialogue for these types of issues.
posted by jgilliam at 10:35 AM on September 21, 2002

I just found my new life motto:

Throughout history it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph.
-------------------------------------------[Haile Selassie]----

posted by Rastafari at 11:48 AM on September 21, 2002

For those who don't know the deal with Scientology you might want to read, "Scientology vs. The Internet"

I remember the ARSBOMB and some of the initial raids back in the old Usenet days.
posted by mkelley at 12:14 PM on September 21, 2002

Big shout-out to Rastafari!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:01 PM on September 21, 2002

jgilliam - I thought briefly about creating anti-Scientology ads, but what I really was referring to is what would happen if several million people suddenly became "repeatedly interested" in the church... ;->
posted by insomnia_lj at 2:02 PM on September 21, 2002

Careful, insomnia: DoS attacks are prosecutable.
posted by dhartung at 2:13 PM on September 21, 2002

dhartung - I wasn't talking about a DoS attack... I was suggesting that each click through on an ad must cost the CoS a bit of change. It's almost as if the CoS had a stack of publically available pamphlets. If they did, would it be legal for people to take a pamphlet, open it up briefly, then throw it in the trash?! I don't know...
posted by insomnia_lj at 5:30 PM on September 21, 2002

If you internet hooligans don't stop speaking ill about Scientology, I'm going to bury you all under volcanoes and then blow you up with hydrogen bombs. And after you die, I'll make your disembodied souls intertwine and disturb the daily lives and personalities of every human being on Earth.

Psychiatrists will try to make sure that the torment continues - but unfortunately, their evil plans will be undone because anyone who has a boat-load of money and is willing to dedicate their life to it will be able to join the secret navy of my enemy, and be happy and succesful all the time!

If you have any qualms about this, just look at my friends! They don't win many Oscars, but they're incredibly beloved, and don't they have such beautiful smiles and eyes? And Nicole Kidman doesn't divorce any of them 'cuz she wants to get laid for once. That never happens.
posted by GriffX at 7:10 PM on September 21, 2002

What is the nature of belief?

It seems to me that it has very little to do with the things which happen after the dr's say I'm dead:

belief leads to religion ( a systematised set of beliefs)

which don't have to be true

atheists like me get hung up on the un-truthfulness

which is irrelevant (to the dispensers of, and adherents to) any religion.

And thats why we don't hear each other.

night night.
posted by dash_slot- at 7:30 PM on September 21, 2002

How much will I regret this, come the am?
posted by dash_slot- at 7:31 PM on September 21, 2002

"Scientology ... is not a religion."

- L. Ron Hubbard, The Creation of Human Ability, p. 251

"THE ONLY WAY YOU CAN CONTROL PEOPLE IS TO LIE TO THEM. You can write that down in your book in great big letters. The only way you can control anybody is to lie to them."

- L. Ron Hubbard, Technique 88
posted by redhead at 8:43 PM on September 21, 2002

I am no fan of the Church of Scientology. But I fail to see how their copyrights for tech documents are 'suspect'. These are documents that were written by Church members under Church employment specifically for sale to Church members (at extraordinarily high prices). The fact that a judge chose to ask for some evidence before coming to a judgement does nothing to change this.

Of course, the COS having tax free religion status is insane, since it is obviously a multi-level marketing business.

posted by datadawg at 6:59 AM on September 22, 2002

[Ob. Disclaimer: I am a trained historian, and a first-time poster to boot... ]

Looking at the original FPP in a wider scopte than just this Co$ case, IMHO this kind of thing is going to continue until gets some kind of 'official' status, akin to the various National Archives and libraries (like the LOC or the British Library). There should be a place archiving everything on the net, well, as much as possible, maybe with some restraints on access of recent data if that would make it possible. But if they aren't allowed to keep collecting data pending a court ruling, the data will just be gone.

Not that I know how to set this up in a practical way. being independant (though relying heavily on various grants, of course) is a good thing. But a special status that might grant them protection, combined with a 'no censorship, never' charter might be better. Under the Unesco umbrella maybe? Or, keeping things simple and US-centric, merging with the LOC?
posted by esha at 10:45 AM on September 22, 2002

Of course, the COS having tax free religion status is insane, since it is obviously a multi-level marketing business.

make that multi-level marketing CULT
posted by WLW at 5:23 PM on September 22, 2002

Scientology...argggghhh. That is all.
posted by Jimmy Olsen at 2:36 AM on September 24, 2002

Looks like Slashdot covered this issue today after an article by C/NET. I have a feeling that yet another reporter reads MeFi...
posted by insomnia_lj at 12:56 AM on September 25, 2002

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