Scientology loses legal battle with ISP's

By EDRi · September 10, 2003

8 years after Scientology started legal procedures against Dutch author
Karin Spaink, internet provider XS4ALL and 20 other defendants, the
Appellate Court of The Hague rejected all claims and ruled that freedom of
expression should prevail upon copyrights.

According to the ruling “The (…) texts show that, in their doctrine and
their organisation, Scientology et al. do not hesitate to overthrow
democratic values. From the texts it also follows that one of the objects
of the non-disclosure of the contents of OT II and OT III … is to thwart
discussion of the doctrine and practices of the Scientology organisation.”

In September 1995, XS4ALL servers were formally seized by a bailiff,
assisted by a representative from Scientology, for hosting the Fishman
Affidavit on the homepage of a customer. This affidavit, a court-testimony
from a former member, contained many quotes from documents that the church
wanted to keep secret. Another customer of XS4ALL, Karin Spaink, put the
document on her homepage. When Scientology threatened to sue her and
XS4ALL, many other people put mirrors on their homepages. In interim
injunction proceedings in 1996, the court of The Hague declared all
Scientology’s claims against XS4ALL, Karin Spaink and the other defendants
to be unfounded. Scientology appealed, but lost once again in 1999.
However, this 1999 decision included a separate declaratory judgement
stating that providers could be held liable if three conditions are met;
first, the provider is notified; secondly, the notification leaves no
reasonable doubt about the infringement of (copy-)rights; and thirdly, the
provider does not take down or block the material. The E-Commerce
Directive was influenced by this verdict.

In 1999, court also ruled that providers might be held liable for
hyperlinks and have to hand over the names and addresses of their
customers under certain circumstances. The Appellate Court of The Hague
quashed this ruling completely, but did not offer any further help on
liability of providers. The E-Commerce Directive, with its vague
liability-exemptions for hosting, is now leading once more, leaving it up
to providers to decide about the freedom of expression on-line.

The Hague ruling Scientology vs. Spaink, XS4ALL a/o (04.03.2003)

Website Karin Spaink