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Scientologists Force Comment Off Slashdot

CmdrTaco posted more than 13 years ago | from the i-guess-it-was-inevitable dept.

499

Last Saturday a comment was posted here by an anonymous reader that contained text that was copyrighted by the Church of Scientology. They have since followed the DMCA and demanded that we remove the comment. While Slashdot is an open forum and we encourage free discussion and sharing of ideas, our lawyers have advised us that, considering all the details of this case, the comment should come down. Read on to understand what this means.

This is the first time since we instituted our moderation system that a comment has had to be removed because of its content, and believe me nobody is more broken hearted about it than me. It's a bad precedent, and a blow for the freedom of speech that we all share in this forum. But this simply doesn't look like a case we can win. Our lawyers tell us that it appears to be a violation of Copyright law, and under the terms of the DMCA, we must remove it. Else we risk legal action that would at best be expensive, and potentially cause Slashdot to go down temporarily or even permanently. At the worst, court orders could jeporadize your privacy, and we would be helpless to stop it.

We need to choose our battles and this isn't one we want to have. We want Slashdot to be a forum where you can say what's in your heart, but we simply can't defend an anonymous poster who violates copyright law. Keep that in mind when you post in both this discussion, and in others in the future. Post your ideas. Post your thoughts. And most of all, post your links. We need to play by the rules or it's game over.

Now there is the matter of this specific comment. It contained a text called "OT III", part of what is known as the Fishman Affidavit. This text is Copyrighted by the Church of Scientology. In compliance with the DMCA, we are removing it from Slashdot. In its place we are putting non-copyrighted text: Links to websites about the church of Scientology, as well as links to how you can contact your congressman about the DMCA. Thanks a lot to Jamie for putting this together.

First of all, we would like to point out that the text of OT III is available at many other places on the web. To many to list here in fact. Instead, try a Google search on "OT III" and "Fishman", which as of this writing (March 2001) returns over 250 pages. A broader search on AltaVista returns over 2,000 webpages.

Operating in the jurisdiction of the Dutch courts, Karin Spaink's Fishman Affidavit webpage has fended off two lawsuits from Scientology, one in 1996 and one in 1999. The latter suit, according to the page, is still being appealed. >From the link listed just above, you can click through to the Fishman Affidavit, which contains links to not only to an annotated copy of OT III, but to the documents on the other OT levels as well, number one through the disputed number eight.

If you would like a plain English explanation of OT III, see OT III Rewritten For Beginners, by Jon Atack. Its author is a former Scientologist who himself completed level OT III. The webpage contains nothing copyrighted by a Scientology organization. It is an explanation of what OT III says and what that means, along with commentary by the author. Jon Atack is also the author of A Piece of Blue Sky, which is a history of Scientology from before its founding to after L. Ron Hubbard's death. At the above link, you can either purchase it, or read it in its entirety online.

If you are interested in Scientology, you will want to visit Operation Clambake, at xenu.net. It seems to be the most important central resource for information on the organization.

You may also want to visit the Lisa McPherson Memorial Page, which claims that "Lisa died needlessly at the hands of Scientology." Her case is truly a tragic one and she deserves to be remembered. The site has a great deal of information on her death. Related is The Lisa McPherson Trust, which has not only information about Lisa, but a very large archive of interviews, court transcripts, news reports, testimonials, and videos about Scientology.

Here's a Slashdot story last year on eBay removing auctions for e-meters based on the Church of Scientology DMCA copyright allegations, which is odd because Copyright law doesn't cover a physical device.

If there's anything else about Scientology you want to know, you will want to see AltReligionScientology.org, which contains a huge list of links to all the sites I don't have room to list here.

The DMCA is actually five separate modifications to copyright law. Its Title I is known for providing legal protection for "technological measures" (typically encryption) which prevent copying; this is the part that empowered the MPAA to sue over DeCSS, to name the best-known example.

That's not the part that concerns us here; Title II is its other major modification of copyright law and that's what we're dealing with. Title II created 17 U.S.C. Section 512, and we're specifically looking at our liability under paragraphs (c)(1)(A), which says we have to act "expeditiously to remove or disable access to the [infringing] material." Here's the U.S. Copyright Office's 18-page summary of the DMCA as a whole. If 18 pages is too long for you, here's the American Library Association's much quicker summary

Here's a list of resources on the DMCA, including the DMCA itself in PDF format. The EFF page on the DCMA seems to relate mostly to Title I, the anti-encryption-circumvention portion, but it's too good not to mention anyway.

Don't know who your Congressperson or Senators are? That's OK, now's as good a time as any to learn. Finding your Senators is easy, just go to Senate.gov. To find your Representative, you just need your zip code. You can use the form on the website to write them if you're lazy, but if you want your message to have more impact, print it out and send it in a real envelope. Anything's better than nothing, though.

When you write, you'll want to write something they'll read. Here are the ACLU's tips for writing to your Congressperson or Senators.

cancel ×

499 comments

History of Strongarm Tactics (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#359421)

a study of the history of the church of scientology is a very interesting one. they have a longstanding history of forceful (and sometimes illegal) scare tactics. they have been the subject of fbi investigations on more than one occassion...

I would add . . . (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#359422)

I'm a regular poster hiding out as a coward. After all, this is Scientology we're talking about here - I don't want to be the next target.

Thanks for posting the large collection of useful and informative and appropriate links. Information itself is the most useful weapon against those who would try and control said information.

I would add that there is one more thing to do - spread this information around. Give people the links, give people the link to this very article and let them know what happened. Shove this information (politely) in the face of anyone available.

Oh, and when you write your congresspeople? Be sure to mention this case IN DETAIL. Ask them how good they feel that an infamous cult is using their precious DMCA to cover their tracks.

Too bad (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#359423)

but I certainly understand the need to choose your fights. Thank you for the explanation and the links which help to reconstruct the original post.

--Justis

Re:This is the end for slashdot (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#359424)

Well, I hate to point out the obvious, but at this point the trolls have a wonderful way of keeping slashdot admins busy. Instead of writing goatse.cx trolls, just paste in bits and pieces of L.Ron Hubbard's idiotic stories. What better way to DDOS slashdot than with lawyers?

Scientology: Weasels and Cowards (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#359429)

and Scumsucking pinheads. Only in the US would you find some hazy non-thought induced cult pushing everyone around under the guise of religion. I hate to say it, but the Germans called this one right when they kicked the lying shits out of their country. Fuck 'em. I say burn them to the ground. It ain't religion, it's a pyramid scheme. Scooter Bugdrill, hater of cults.

Re:This is the end for slashdot (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#359430)

"See, for instance, Demon, a UK ISP, who, on removing some Usenet posts for reasons of illegality, were held liable for every single post on their service, since they had become publishers in the eyes of tha law. "

This isnt true. This happened outside court, and did not set a precedent. It was a private agreement.

Backfired! (5)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#359432)

While Scientology has succeeded in removing a small article posted by a Slashdot user, they have gained now full exposure with a dozen links to anti-Scientology sites, to annotated versions of the OT texts and other things the "church" spends millions of dollars to fight against.

The only winners here are the lawyers (once again).

Scientology isn't so bad (5)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#359433)

I know I'll get flamed for this, so I'm posting anonymously. I don't mean to offend anyone, but I feel I might.

First off, I'd like to congratulate Slashdot for providing thoughtful feedback to the community on this important issue. I'd also like to thank them for slagging Scientology as I agree with claims depicting it as dangerous and sinister. In my opinion it is all of that and more.

My reason, however, for saying that Scientology isn't so bad is based on comparison with other religions. Sure, you posted a link to a site about a girl who was killed by the Scientologists...but what if the Catholic church had been the ones using the DMCA to repress content here? I can't imagine where to begin to discuss the number of people who have died at their hands. How many hits do you get on google when you search for the crusades? How about the 100 years war?

And I don't just object to catholicism. All forms of Christianity have their body count. How many died at the Salem witch trials? How many died in the holocaust?

Christianity isn't the only culprit. How many have died in Israel in the past year alone?

Religion kills. Period. It is a sickness and the cause of more misery and murder committed by man against man than any other human intellectual construct in history.

So, if we're going to slag the Scientologists for being kooks, we might want to remember that the majority of America believes they can talk to an invisible man every Sunday. Pretty kooky if you ask me.

Again, if I have offended anyone, I apologize. Please appreciate, however, that if you support a forum of free speech (in the spirit of Slashdot), then you have to put up with opinions like mine too.

Slashdot and Common Carrier status (2)

euroderf (47) | more than 13 years ago | (#359435)

I find this very worrying for Slashdot. They should have resisted *all* impulses to tamper with the site.

Common Carrier status is given to organisations that are not responsible for the data that they carry, such as telephone companies and postal companies. We have had good reason to believe that Slashdot falls into this categorie.

However, as sson as editors tamper with posts, the site no longer has common carrier status, and is therefore vulnerable to being sued by any organisation that does not like what we, the readers, post here.

They may already have done this by allowing Michael to tamper with posts, something he has done many times in the past, but even then they should have held sway and not deleted, IMO.

Now that they have deleted a post, how can they be said to have common carrier status? IMO, they cannot - editorial control has been exerted, for all to see. It is called a slippery slope.

I think that this is because the commercial bigwigs at VALinux care not for principles. I think Taco was leaned on by those above him.

Suppose this had happened at kuro5hin. Would the posts have been deleted? I don't think so.

This is just a symptom of slashdot having become a commercial institution. It no longer cares, when it comes down to the bottom line, about the principles upon which it was founded.
--

Incorrect. (2)

euroderf (47) | more than 13 years ago | (#359436)

Kuro5hin is only sponsored by VALinux. VALinux have no say over what happens there. As to the ownership, ambitious plans have been mooted to make it community owned, which would make it even more entitled to common carrier status. The fact that all the articles are written by the readers helps it in this regard also.
--

Re:Slashdot and Common Carrier status (2)

euroderf (47) | more than 13 years ago | (#359437)

My problem is that they have set a precedent. As soon as they delete posts, they are open for all time to any corporation that wishes to sue them. To keep common carrier status, you must *never* tamper with posts on your site.

By hueing closely to this ideal, you cannot be touched in the law. It is a basic principle.
--

Okay, from the paper: (3)

euroderf (47) | more than 13 years ago | (#359438)

The paper clearly states that in order for Napster to be sued, the following clause had to be proved:

Right and Ability to Control: Napster has the ability to control the infringing activity of its users because it retains the right to block a user

Nothe that Napster retained the right to tamper with what its users were doing, and to block them. Furthermore:

In order to prove a contributory infringement claim, a copyright owner must establish the following elements: (1) some act of direct infringement (by end-users, for example); (2) that the defendant knew or should have known of the defendant of the direct infringement; and (3) that the defendant materially contributed to the direct infringement.

1&2 are fair enough, but 3? I don't think so.Also:

In order to prove a vicarious infringement claim, a copyright owner must establish the following elements: (1) some act of direct infringement (by end-users, for example); (2) that the defendant had the right or ability to control the direct infringer; and (3) that the defendant derived a direct financial benefit from the direct infringement.

The crucial point is number 2, Slashdot is perfectly free to sign off any 'rights' over what the posters here say

The paper makes one thing shiningly clear: P2P Systems have 2 choices. They van choose between total anarchy, and total control. The problem for Napster is that it did not choose either, and retained some control, and more importantly the right to such control. If slashdot went down the anarchy route, and from reading the posts one would think it had, then it would have nothing to fear. This is about retaining the right, and also exercising it, to tamper with users posts.
--

Re:Common Carrier (2)

volsung (378) | more than 13 years ago | (#359440)

The above quote from the DMCA seems to suggest that places like Slashdot can't be common carriers anymore.

Re:Bull (2)

volsung (378) | more than 13 years ago | (#359441)

But the DMCA doesn't grant you the freedom to do that. That's the problem, and that's why you're going to see other discussion boards on the Internet get into real trouble.

Re:Evil - We need ethical /. alternatives NOW. (2)

volsung (378) | more than 13 years ago | (#359442)

Right. Not to be cynical, but I doubt there are many sponsors out there who are willing to burn lots of their cash defending the rights of their non-paying users in lawsuits that they will almost surely lose. (At least in the case of this incident.)

Maybe the ACLU would be willing to run a discussion board with the side purpose of creating an incident that they could use as a test case for the DMCA. I would suggest the EFF, but I suspect they are already hemoraging cash over the DeCSS case. (You can, by the way, make a donation to the DeCSS defense fund if you want to help support them.)

Re:Slashdot and Common Carrier status (2)

volsung (378) | more than 13 years ago | (#359443)

Common carrier status might protect the people who give Slashdot its Internet connection and the owners of the network segments. However, Slashdot bears much more resemblence to a newspaper, magazine, or news program. Those types of organizations are not going to be protected, even if they decide to let people post whatever they wanted.

Re:This is the end for slashdot (5)

volsung (378) | more than 13 years ago | (#359453)

People also need to realize that for quite a long while, the Supreme Court has distinguished between different types of speech, and given them different protection. Speech of a political nature receives the highest protection. It's the reason we can go around an bash the DMCA all day long and not get in trouble. (Notice I said "bash" and not "break".)

On the other end, speech that would present a "clear and present danger" (as I think the quote goes) is not protected. Classic example: shouting "fire" as a prank in a crowded area.

I think our current speech problems have to do with speech about businesses and IP, something which has not been given too much support in the past.

In the end, Slashdot got busted for copyright violation. Notice that we can still all sit here and say anything we want about the Church of Scientology, and they can't send Rob another cease-and-desist order. (They can picket our homes and places of business if we are really obnoxious, but that's a different story.)

This really isn't about free speech at all. Cut and paste has never been protected.

$cientology more powerful than Micro$oft (4)

smartin (942) | more than 13 years ago | (#359462)

Wow, went Microsoft tried this they were unsuccessful. This would seem to mean that clearly Scientology is the more powerful evil corporation when it comes to asserting proprietary control over their technology. Now only the question that remains is, Who is satan's right hand man Bill Gates or L. Ron Hubbard? :)

$cientology != Left (2)

Watts Martin (3616) | more than 13 years ago | (#359475)

Scientology's one foothold is among the Hollywood Left, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, John Travolta, etc.

As someone on the left, I take a bit of exception to this. Point to Harry Thomason, Norman Lear, Danny Glover, Spike Lee, Oprah Winfrey, John Wells, Martin Sheen or others who are actually part of "the Hollywood Left" if you want. Hell, point to Jane Fonda if you must. But don't point to the Scientologists. I doubt you'll find a single one, in Hollywood or anywhere else, who is--in the immortal phrase of Bush the First--a card-carrying member of the ACLU.

Re:What _exactly_ is the real problem here? (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 13 years ago | (#359514)

Why exactly do you say that the post in question does not fall under "fair use"? Was it the COMPLETE OTIII? My understanding was that it was a large document, the sort that wouldn't really make for a very effective post on Slashdot. If it was only some section or sections of OTIII it *does* fall under fair use (but of course DMCA and Co$ never would understand that).

(p.s. next time try breaking up your lists with html breaks. Much more readable).

Lisa McPherson autopsy pics (3)

joshv (13017) | more than 13 years ago | (#359516)

http://video.rotten.com/elron/ [rotten.com] . Not for the faint of heart...

-josh

I don't blame you (3)

Aggrazel (13616) | more than 13 years ago | (#359519)

I mean, how can a website like slashdot hope to fight the good fight against a bunch of brainwashed zealots who'se religion is to take as much money as they can from their members.

Stupid scientology.

Oh by the way, until it gets deleted here's a good link to the evils of the Church of Scientology: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Secrets/index.html

political asylum (1)

El Cabri (13930) | more than 13 years ago | (#359521)

Slashdot is welcome to apply for political asylum in any European country.

Re:Slashdot and Common Carrier status (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 13 years ago | (#359538)

He surrendered in the very first episode. I haven't watched any since then. Thhhbbbbss!

Re:This is the end for slashdot (5)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 13 years ago | (#359542)

They concede nothing. THe DMCA, which IS A LAW that /. must obey, says they MUST remove the material at once. SO they did. It's not a 'choice'. Their other choice was to contest the copyright. (won't work.. it IS copyrwritten by COS)

demon.co.uk removing posts for illegality is a different matter, because nothing required them to do so. In this case, the law requires /. to remove the post.

Common Carrier (2)

delirium_9 (26055) | more than 13 years ago | (#359552)

I always thought that since slashdot didn't edit or remove posts it fell under the common carrier category - that is it wouldn't be held liable for content posted as it exercises no control over them.

Also I'm fairly sure that I've seen DeCSS code a couple of times (then again most code looks the same to me).

Perhaps the setting of a legal defence fund, or even a paypal account would help Slashdot fight this battle, and the others that will inevitably follow.

I'd make a comment about Americans and their silly laws, but its probably just a matter of time before DMCA-type laws spread elsewhere.

Benefits of Andover (3)

Brento (26177) | more than 13 years ago | (#359553)

I'm glad the Slashdot guys had the resources of Andover at their disposal, as long as those resources helped out. One of the benefits of being part of a big company is that they've usually got some capital they can burn if you get attacked by lawyers.

On the flip side, being part of a big company means you can't always take a stand. Your parent company also has more resources to lose, and thus sometimes you have to buckle under.

We'll never know if the old Slashdot would have fought off the religion-for-profit crowd, and some people on here are going to say Andover had a negative effect. Let's not turn this into a flame war - at least, not flame Andover, because we'll never know whether they had a positive effect or not.

Sad day for freedom of speech (4)

villoks (27306) | more than 13 years ago | (#359555)

As a person who has once got an threatening email from the lawyers of this evil cult, I understand very well why /. gave up (I posted one of $cn's "secret" documents with some comments to a.r.s. but later cancelled that post). These people are ready to spend as money as needed to suppress free speech. They don't play on these matters, there's too much their money on the stake. They can ruin private person financially badly (Zenon for example) and the cost can be very high also for the companies which dear to criticize them (NY Times had to spend awful lot of money to defend itself against the clamsuit(tm))

This is the exact reason why systems like FreeNet are neened. They are the only line of defence against this misuse of intellectual property rigts. $cientology today, the goverment of China tomorrow...?

Ville Oksanen
SP4 and damn proud of it.
My DeCSS archive:

Fair use? (1)

Nodatadj (28279) | more than 13 years ago | (#359556)

Are you not allowed to reproduce certain portions of text as fair use? Or was it -1 Offtopic? Or does the DMCA totally remove fair use?

Re:Slashdot and Common Carrier status (4)

jellicle (29746) | more than 13 years ago | (#359558)

I don't have the ability to "tamper with posts" and have never done so. Anyone who says differently is lying.

Frankly, if Kuro5hin was choosing between having their site shut down by their ISP or deleting a post due to copyright complaints, my guess about how they would respond is a bit different than yours.

And finally, any poster who uses the phrase "common carrier" in discussing this situation has no idea what it means. (Hint: "common carrier" is a term that refers ONLY to a very limited set of telecommunications companies: mainly the various Bells.) We just posted (a week ago) a link to this paper [eff.org] which examines copyright issues with peer-to-peer services - most of it is applicable to slashdot too. Read it before you spout off about copyright issues.

I'm in two minds about this... (3)

mav[LAG] (31387) | more than 13 years ago | (#359561)

An Anonymous Coward elsewhere says:

It means that slashdot is just as much a spineless corporate puppet as everyone thought it was.

One the one hand I see where this guy/gal is coming from. Slashdot seems to have sold out. For Malda and Co. to fight the Scientologists would generate major press both against Scientologists and that laughable piece of legislation called the DMCA. Just imagine:

Slashdot Takes Stand Against Both Scientology and DMCA
Geeks Put Oft-touted Ideology To the Test
Open Source Site puts money where mouth is in DMCA wrangle

But another part of me agrees with the blurb. It really isn't worth the time and trouble and lawyers' (more than one :) fees to fight something posted anonymously - especially if the Co$ decide they would like to go after the real poster and subpoena the IP or something.

would this have been different.. (5)

DirkGently (32794) | more than 13 years ago | (#359562)

...if it hadn't been an AC?

If someone with a UID had posted the comment?

D.

Re:Slashdot and Common Carrier status (5)

Hizonner (38491) | more than 13 years ago | (#359567)

Sigh. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

  1. In the pre-DMCA world, the whole "common carrier" claim for service providers was basically conjecture based on analogies. It was never really litigated, and it certainly wasn't obviously written in any statute. People relied on it, but it might or might not have held up in court; the question was pretty muddy. I suspect that it would not have worked for Slashdot, which could not have asserted ignorance in the same way as, say, a Usenet server.

  2. Regardless of whether the "common carrier" claim would have held up before the DMCA, it definitely will not hold up now, because the DMCA replaces all that uncertainty with a great deal of certainty. Service providers are obligated to take down supposedly infringing material under a very well defined set of procedures. US law has changed on this issue.

  3. Assuming that Scientology has a valid copyright on this material (and it does), and assuming that there are no first-amendment freedom of religion issues muddying the waters (which I'd think there should be, but the courts do not seem to agree), there is absolutely no question that Slashdot was legally obligated to take it down. Chanting "common carrier" no longer has any legal effect, if it ever did.

  4. I understand Scientology has a reputation for litigating bogus claims. This one, however, would seem to be (legally, not morally) valid.

  5. It's not really worth fighting this sort of thing in court. The right response to Scientology is just to overwhelm them with the volume of criticism.

  6. You can get yourself into a lot of trouble by listening to half-informed amateur interpretations of the law.

... and I'm yet another half-informed amateur.

Re:Slashdot and Common Carrier status (1)

SlashDread (38969) | more than 13 years ago | (#359568)

As Jean Luc would say:
This is where is has to stop. Noone will take the enterprise.

This is the COS, resistance is futile.

An easier way? (1)

Trumpet (42631) | more than 13 years ago | (#359584)

This will probably get smacked down as flamebait and I'll get called a big anti-privacy freak, but...

Instead of making a big fuss out of the entire ordeal and getting everyone up in a big tizzy, wouldn't it have just been better for the Editors to remove the offending text and move on? I understand the recultance to do so, since traditionally Slashdot has been very pro-speech, but replacing the actual text with links to "offshore content" and web searches for the material /seems/ just as bad to me. This is just one of those examples where I (as a weblog webmaster), would have rather seen the situation move quietly into the night rather than to announce to everyone what happened.

That said, I'm almost happy they decided to replace it with some fairly informative material - some of those links are very good pointers to some excellent guides to the DMCA as well as informative guides to Scientology. Interesting stuff...

Who Loses? Scientology (4)

jazman_777 (44742) | more than 13 years ago | (#359588)

Because now a bunch of people have gone to all the links about Scientology in the article. How many people read the quote that was removed? Not nearly as many I would guess as looked around about Scientology.

I, too, hate it that /. removed the comment. Scientology earns another black eye, some more negative exposure. That's a nice end, but the price paid (the means) may not be worth it. But in the grand scheme of things, they lose.

And isn't it Cosmic Justice that John Travolta's money goes to laywers, because of what he did to us in Saturday Night Fever?

Evil - We need ethical /. alternatives NOW. (1)

Multics (45254) | more than 13 years ago | (#359589)

So what this means is Andover decided that they didn't want to fight for the case law. Probably because of the expense. Yes it would have been expensive (easily $500k+++), but someone has to do it in order for BBSes to hold their common carrier arguement. I would have contributed to a defend /. fund because EVIL is winning otherwise.

Perhaps it is time for the /.ers to march with their mice and find a discussion system that is willing to put their money where their mouth is.

Please post as followups to this note possible alternatives that are not $ connected to Andover/VA Linux.

As a side benefit, we can be rid of Katz too.

--Multics

Re:What _exactly_ is the real problem here? (1)

Multics (45254) | more than 13 years ago | (#359590)

The problem is that /. didn't own the comment in question. They (until now) claimed that they were the vehicle for all messages to be transfered, but has no control over the content. By removing this content, they now take responsibility for the content of the entire site. They are no longer trying to use the common carrier arguement and by removing the content are proving that they are not a common carrier. Defending that position later will effectively be impossible after this example.

The poster was the one who was responsible for the content. /. should have allowed the litigation, documented that they could or could not have back traced the AC posting (I didn't see it, but I presume it was an AC), then allowed the Church of Scientology (which I believe to be Evil) to attack the poster.

Now every thug who doesn't like something here has a preccedent that when faced with certain legal bills, /. will rollover and play a spineless, ethic-less dead.

One final note. Because copyright holders have to defend their works ownership, lest it fall into the public domain, The Church had to start this in order to maintain their current position.

The point, further, is they did the economics. We were not worth the us$500k++ it was going to take to get the case law that they were a common carrier established.

-- Multics

Re:$cientology more powerful than Micro$oft (1)

alexjohns (53323) | more than 13 years ago | (#359603)

Ummm, L. Ron is his right-hand man in hell and Billy is his right-hand man here on earth. Or one of them is his left-hand man. (If you believe in any of that satan/god/supreme being crap.)


--

Re:Slashdot and Common Carrier status (3)

Chalst (57653) | more than 13 years ago | (#359609)

I don't think that managed comment section could claim common carrier status in any case. I agree that there is an important point of principle here, but you have to choose your battles. By withdrawing the post, they can protect the anonymity of ACs. I think that is a more important matter.

Re:Slashdot and Common Carrier status (1)

Snard (61584) | more than 13 years ago | (#359613)

To me, "common carrier" status just doesn't seem to apply to a forum like Slashdot, especially if you try to compare it to telephone companies or the post office. Both of those examples are primarily private conversations, and Slashdot is "written by one, read by all", more like TV or radio, with the user feedback being a sort of "call in show".

Also, even the post office and telephone companies have laws to deal with certain abuses (i.e. mail fraud, harrassing phone calls, etc.)

Re:A blessing in disguise? (1)

Lysander Luddite (64349) | more than 13 years ago | (#359617)

"Perhaps by standing up for legality and order, Rob Malda and Slashdot can server as a shining example for all of us who frequent the site."

I'm sorry, but I have a moral obligation to ignore or defeat unjust laws. That a *religion* can be *copyrighted* is one such example. Remember, all tyrannies use the law as a sledgehammer against freedom.

Re:Slashdot and Common Carrier status (1)

Hangman Jim 99 (85153) | more than 13 years ago | (#359647)

Exactly.

Remember, lawyers will go after slashdot editors and which allow or disallow posts.

Comments are different, but they are moderated, so in effect its similar.

Telephone and postal companies are not responsable for what goes on in their service, but nor do they pick and choose what goes on in their service.


I hate my sig.

Re:This is the end for slashdot (2)

jmv (93421) | more than 13 years ago | (#359655)

You, as a poster, are liable for what you write

I'm sorry, but you have always been liable for what you say, long before the DMCA, and that's not a bad thing in itself.

Slashdot is liable for everything written on Slashdot.

In this case, Slashdot was not liable for the content. In this case, a copyright infringement was found in a comment and Slashdot was asked to "help" repair de "damage" by removing the comment. That's all.

I still don't agree with copyrights on a this kind of stuff, but that's another matter.

Remember... (2)

stu72 (96650) | more than 13 years ago | (#359662)

... usenet? .. you know, that place where, along with mailing lists, where we'll have our discussions after all the waste.of.breath.and.funding.com discussion sites dry up.

While certainly people abused usenet, perhaps none so much as Scientology, at least it's harder to shut down.

Maybe we'll have to graft a chat/newsgroup function onto gnutella/freenet to finally stop worrying about all this bullshit.

How is this different from last time (2)

Xenex (97062) | more than 13 years ago | (#359664)

With Microsoft and the incident with their so-called 'trade secrets' Slashdot fought to the end to keep those comments up. I just am wondering why is this time different? I don't know much about US law, but why is it so different this time?

Scientology seems to be in favor with the government, not like most cults...

Re:Slashdot and Common Carrier status (1)

Sc00ter (99550) | more than 13 years ago | (#359668)

Why would this not have happened at k5? They're owned by VA Linux too..

And despite what Taco and the gang at k5 think, they're calling the punches now.


--

Name Change? (4)

GodHead (101109) | more than 13 years ago | (#359670)


So will you guys be changing your name from Andover to Bend-over?

ROLCIOF
(Rolling on the floor cause I'm on fire)

Re:Slashdot and Common Carrier status (1)

MonkeyMagic (118319) | more than 13 years ago | (#359685)

Suppose this had happened at kuro5hin. Would the posts have been deleted? I don't think so.

Rusty has deleted posts in the past, not for being illegal, but for being offensive (IIRC).


DILBERT: But what about my poem?

What _exactly_ is the real problem here? (1)

mikeage (119105) | more than 13 years ago | (#359689)

I think I'm missing something. Perhaps I don't understand copyright law very well, or maybe I'm just not anti-establishment enough for the /. crowd, but let me review my understanding of the facts. 1. A user, without any support from slashdot, posted (illegally) copyright text. This did NOT appear, IMHO, to fall under "fair-use", but IANAL. 2. Slashdot did nothing wrong by automatically (computer) posting the comment... since they are just a forum. 3. This "Church" (which I am not a fan of, although I am a practicing member of a religous movement) had it's copyright violated 4. They got upset. 5. They wanted it removed. 6. Slashdot was (now) knowingly supporting copyright infringement. 7. They removed it. What's the problem? It's true that slashdot does not have to monitor everything for criminal acts... but once they find out about it, how can they continue? One more point. WTF is Taco's problem? Although I commend him for encouraging us to contact our legislators, he only presents one argument against this complaint: Many other people do it, too. The fact that google lists tons of other criminals doesn't make it right. Duh. "If you can't dazzle them with briliance, blind them with bull," and that's what we have here... a bunch of ad hominem attacks on the Church, and other links designed to make the story look impressive. Now, as with every anti-slashdot comment, here's what to do: 1. Mod me up to about 3 or so... so a bunch of people see me. 2. Write a response 3. Mod that up to 5 4. Mod be back down to -1 Got it? ;)

How much you want to bet... (2)

demaria (122790) | more than 13 years ago | (#359691)

How much do you want to bet that the comments on this story will contain the text at issue, as well as in every article for the next two weeks or so.

It happened with DeCSS. Let's all get Rob in trouble!

Re:How much you want to bet... (2)

demaria (122790) | more than 13 years ago | (#359692)

Nah the scientologists won't get overwhelmed. They'll just go through the comments and say "remove #28, #58, #60..." and give a big long list. Then it becomes a bit overwhelming for the slashdot crew. You will not 'overwhelm' the scientologists, especially when it's obivious that slashdot staffmembers are willing to remove the comments. You'll just piss off Rob and Jeff as they spend 7 workhours just deleting comments. Eventually the scientologists may take actual legal action, and might try to shut down slashdot.

Pandora's box. I don't know if this will pave the way for the mpaa to request DeCSS stuff to be removed.

Re:Slashdot and Common Carrier status (1)

antoniol (125305) | more than 13 years ago | (#359693)

My problem is that they have set a precedent. As soon as they delete posts, they are open for all time to any corporation that wishes to sue them. To keep common carrier status, you must *never* tamper with posts on your site.

So if Joe Schmoe the postman tampers with a letter he was supposed to deliver, the Postal Service is no longer a common carrier?

Re:Yanno what? (1)

Mr.Phil (128836) | more than 13 years ago | (#359700)

Quote:
"..THEY CONVINCED JOHN TRAVOLTA TO DO A BAD MOV.."

They must have told him that he would be bound to the inner circle of a tin can and sent to orbit Mir or some nutty thing that's defined as "hell" in thier minds. After all, he's providing the CA$H for them to do this.

Concessions. (3)

Farq Fenderson (135583) | more than 13 years ago | (#359704)

When I read about MS trying to silence some comments a while ago, I made a casual vow to stop reading slashdot if censorship ever occurred.

However, I have to make a concession in this case. The CoS (in this case the Church of Scientology, not the Church of Satan) have a nasty reputation for having things go their way, and I can only be relieved at the fact that slashdot still has its servers.

If this sounds dramatic, talk to some people who were mrerely suspected of having CoS-copyrighted material about six years ago. When they quit the CoS, they also (unwittingly) forfeit their home computers and all storage devices.

I'd post a link to the info, but it's been years since I read it, and no longer have a link. Sorry.

Steve

This would be good news, if only... (2)

Glowing Fish (155236) | more than 13 years ago | (#359727)

We can convince the scientologists that Senor Goat is a copyrighted scientology secret.

Re:Name Change? (1)

JCMay (158033) | more than 13 years ago | (#359730)

Some people have no sense of humor this early in the morning. Gotta be careful with those posts, donchaknow.

Paranoid mode on... (2)

HiQ (159108) | more than 13 years ago | (#359733)

So Scientology is reading Slashdot now? *shudder* Next they will be after me! Maybe there's still time, I ... Hey , hello ... I... Aaaaahaaaaaaaaargh!

Good way to handle this!! (4)

Zara2 (160595) | more than 13 years ago | (#359735)

Right on /. Good way of handling morons like this who just dont get it. Exposure, exposure, exposure.

Re:How much you want to bet... (1)

PseudonymousCoward (161283) | more than 13 years ago | (#359736)

Seriously now, what is Slashdot's liability with respect to future posts of material, either the same material that has been removed in this action, or other similar Scientology material?

In particular, is it feasible/wise for a certain fraction of Slashdot posters to gratuitously include some Obligatory Scientology Material (OSM) in every comment, in the hope/expectation that the Scientology folks who have to spend time looking for this stuff will be overwhelmed?

Re:This is the end for slashdot (1)

wolpert (164907) | more than 13 years ago | (#359739)

Actually, this just means that Slashdot has the ability to moderate on request by the 'victum'. Failure to do so can then be cause for litigation.

Difficult choice (1)

ugly_bob (166481) | more than 13 years ago | (#359740)

I think that Slashdot took the right course here (motivated by Andover or not). There are plenty of battles out there to fight, but they should be chosen with some care. In overturning controversial laws, public interest associations or other groups will find or create a test case-- a set of circumstances which strictly conflicts with a particular law. This allows courts to review that law with minimal focus on other factors that may confuse the issue. The best example of this is Rosa Parks. The common understanding is that Ms. Parks was told to give up her seat for a white man, and her refusal led to overturning of the Jim Crow laws in the American South. This is largely true, of course, and Rosa Parks' courage should be applauded. There was nothing innocent about the action, however; it was organized by a number of civil rights organizations precisely to raise the issues which were subsequently decided. If Slashdot wished to challenge the DMCA, this would be the way to do it. To accept a challenge from the Scientologists would only invite litigation, and would no doubt result in limiting or even ending the (mostly) great debates on the site. I have read a number of the links listed above, and everything I have read leads me to conclude that Scientology is, in fact, a dangerous and vindictive organization (some might say cult). It also appears clear to me that the organization will use its deep cash and legal resources to fight off any attempts at disparagement or the posting of any of their material. Were Slashdot to pursue this matter, the eventual case would most likely not resolve any DMCA issues, but rather become bogged down by numerous corollary issues, injunctions, and the like. If Slashdot wants to challenge the DMCA, there are better ways to do it, and it should undertake the challenge in an organized and reasoned manner. Acting in the defensive and responding to an attack on this issue would not resolve anything. -- my $0.02; and IAMANAL (I am not an anal lawyer)

I say differently (2)

streetlawyer (169828) | more than 13 years ago | (#359741)

I don't have the ability to "tamper with posts" and have never done so. Anyone who says differently is lying.

You certainly do have the ability to tamper with posts (unlimited moderator points), and I will go further and say that you've abused this privilege in the past. Wanna make me prove it? But note that, if I have to go to the effort, I'm not going to want to waste the material unearthed on a single slashdot comment.

Sometimes I dont feel it is worth the effort. . . (2)

Lostman (172654) | more than 13 years ago | (#359747)

I have been a /. reader for while now and I have to say -- I have thought about stopping.

Why? Because (almost without fail) whenever I read /., I become depressed for a while. When the DMCA first came out I thought -- "well, this should be interesting.. wonder how long it will take for it to be destroyed" and it is still giving me bad feelings today.

The reason I still read /. is so that one day, when all the crap is taken care of, I can see the joyful post that exclaims to the world that the DMCA is over...

obfuscated C contest (3)

G Neric (176742) | more than 13 years ago | (#359754)

Now, if someone were to post a snippet that was necessary for a discussion of the document as a whole, that would be legal under "fair use", right? Then, if someone else posted a different snippet for some other reason, that would be fair use too, right... even a journey of a 1000 miles starts with the first step.

Or, could anybody please post a piece of C code (or is it perl) which I'm sure exists. It has variables named after certain words from English, and coincidentally certain space beings. It's a funny piece of code because it almost reads like English. Anyway, it does something useful and I'd like to use it.

Our lawyers tell us that it appears to be a violation of Copyright law,

How can your lawyers think it's a copy of a copyrighted work unless the crazy cultists provided a copy of the original text to compare against? Could you post that as part of your full disclosure of the case? They sent it to you.

we simply can't defend an anonymous poster who violates copyright law.

In taking down the deleted story, is Slash also turning the IP address of the poster over to the bad guys?

Poison "Religion" (1)

RobertAG (176761) | more than 13 years ago | (#359755)

I suppose Scientology has every right to protects it's copyrights, but isn't the basis of copyright law there to keep others from unfairly profitting from someone else's work? The reprinting of the OT III was done in the context of a series of critical articles about Scientology, shouldn't THAT carry some weight?

If Slashdot invites comments, then the whole body of comments should constitute a single body of work, shouldn't it? That isn't simply a copyright violation. It's FREE EXPRESSION.

Yanno what? (1)

yawble (181792) | more than 13 years ago | (#359766)

For once, i think i see some good in the usless army of script kiddies that are around. Just convince them that by posting this so called "copywrighted bullshit" to all their neat little hacked pages. Wouldn't that be fun? I've read off and on about these freaks and it amazes me how much pull and power they have. I mean THEY CONVINCED JOHN TRAVOLTA TO DO A BAD MOV.. er.. wait.. nm. he does that all the time. bah. oh well, screw scientologists, and screw their wacky little machines, and ESPECIALLY screw their bullshit church dogma.

Re:Sometimes I dont feel it is worth the effort. . (2)

jonbelson (202365) | more than 13 years ago | (#359801)

I'm not sure why /. is trying to blame all this on DMCA, since the Church of Scientology has been suing their^W enemies^W people for copyright infringment for years. It certainly didn't start after the DMCA came about.

Re:I don't blame you (1)

jackb_guppy (204733) | more than 13 years ago | (#359805)

Turn out the lights. This site is toast.

Now Slashdot is required to --
1) remove Microsoft's copyright/trade secret kebos posting.
2) remove all the DeCSS and derive works.

Also it looks like Slashdot lost their good lawyers - looks like the down turn in the market is effecting them too. Because they can not point out that there is 2000 versions on the web. So, what copyright?

Re:Slashdot and Common Carrier status (1)

ranessin (205172) | more than 13 years ago | (#359806)


Through their actions in the past, I think they've already forfeited their Common Carriar status.

Can you imagine the postal service or telephone companies trying to publish a book of comments mailed by people or spoken over the phone lines?

Ranessin

Re:Slashdot and Common Carrier status (2)

ranessin (205172) | more than 13 years ago | (#359807)

It no longer cares, when it comes down to the bottom line, about the principles upon which it was founded.

It's hard to care when one of the most powerful, and one of the richest, institutions in the world can unleash a barrage of lawyers on you turning your existance into nothing more than a history lesson.

Ranessin

Re:I don't blame you (5)

FatOldGoth (207461) | more than 13 years ago | (#359811)

I mean, how can a website like slashdot hope to fight the good fight against a bunch of brainwashed zealots who'se religion is to take as much money as they can from their members.

Hey, they managed to stand up to Microsoft. ;)
--

Choose your battles (2)

OCatenac (218161) | more than 13 years ago | (#359826)

All things considered, CmdrTaco, I think you did the smartest thing. While this is distasteful to all of us, as you say, it's just as important to know when not to fight as it is to fight hard when important principles are at stake.

Onorio Catenacci

making lemonade out of lemons (3)

HyperbolicParabaloid (220184) | more than 13 years ago | (#359830)

Kudos to Taco for taking a crappy situation and making the best of it.
I echo his call for people to write to there rep/sentor; remmeber: if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

Read this (1)

at_18 (224304) | more than 13 years ago | (#359839)

I absolutely recommend the OT III for Beginners [xs4all.nl] page, as mentioned in the article.
You will get a glimpse of what kind of BS the so-called "church" of Scientology tries to push forward...

Disappointing (1)

rexmob (225442) | more than 13 years ago | (#359841)

Well, this certainly is disappointing. I understand you guys had to do it, and I'm not faulting you, but it's a blow nonetheless.

DMCA (1)

Armin Herbert (226693) | more than 13 years ago | (#359843)

"You Americans" have a pretty ugly law, I must say.
I really can't believe that it's up to YOU to remove the comment, without a single word from a court.

You should do something against the DMCA ;-)

Re:I don't blame you (2)

necrognome (236545) | more than 13 years ago | (#359851)

Yes, but scientologists have incredible mental fortitude. They all managed to sit through and enjoy Battlefield Earth.

Re:This is the end for slashdot (1)

ConsumedByTV (243497) | more than 13 years ago | (#359854)

Hey I said that! You better quote me or I am gonna tell CmdrTaco!

Taco!! Remove this or I will sue!!

But seriously, this FUCKING sucks.
I wont get into how bad of an idea this was to do for slashdot and the internet in general, but this makes me so sad I want to cry.



Fight censors!

I'll tell ya... (2)

RareHeintz (244414) | more than 13 years ago | (#359856)

What the DMCA really needs is a "fraudulent scumbag" provision, that disallows psuedo-religious organizations that exist merely to fleece believers from hiding their actions behind copyright law.

Anyway, I'm sorry to hear that this happened, but I, for one, understand. Kudos to Taco for being so forthright about it, spelling errors and all. ;-)

Perhaps, to avoid this in the future, someone should look at archiving /. to an eternity service - one that would distribute, encrypt, and hide portions of all posts on many servers, disallowing deletion or even location of a specific post, but allowing free retrieval, if such a thing is possible. Anyone have links or specific knowledge regarding the existence or possiblity of such a thing?

OK,
- B
--

Kudos! (5)

shyster (245228) | more than 13 years ago | (#359858)

I've got to say I admire that with one hand, /. removes the comment as asked. OTOH, however, they put a headline about it and link to even worse information about the Scientologists!

The comment itself probably didn't get anywhere near the exposure the headline and removal will get. So, while it may seem that our boys at /. have sold-out or are spineless, I see it as creative rebellion.

I am, however, slightly worried about the implications of editorial control over the forums now. Does this mean the common carrier defense is no longer valid? Personally, I don't think so, simply because in this case, they were alerted to the problem, then asked to remove. If they had noticed it themselves, then removed it, I'd be taking a different stand....

Scientology Haiku... (3)

Art_XIV (249990) | more than 13 years ago | (#359862)

Mad about writings
on Slashdot, seems as though my
thetans are still here.

I understand Scientology (1)

Kraft (253059) | more than 13 years ago | (#359863)

Why the Scientology bashing for this action?

If I had managed to produce some (lame or not) document which people were interested in paying loads of money for, and it was made public on /., I would sue or pressure /. to take it off. I don't have much faith in Scientology, or their general marketing practices, but I really cannot blame them for suing.

It's bad for their general image (to all non-believers) and they can potentially loose loads of money.

What company, "good or bad", facing those prospects wouldn't take action?

-Kraft
----------------------------

Re:DMCA (2)

bellers (254327) | more than 13 years ago | (#359867)

What you dont understand is this:

One of L. Ron Hubbards tenets for dealing with enemies (this is published literature internal to the Church) is to sure people until they lack the financial means to resist you any longer.

They have systemematically destroyed the lives of many, many opponents through years of legal maneuvering and stalling to make a simple legal suit take years and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Most average people simply lack the funds to support that kind of wrangling for long times.

Re:Slashdot and Common Carrier status (1)

Anonymous Slackard (254578) | more than 13 years ago | (#359868)

The posting was copyrighted text, the folks here did the pragmatic thing and removed it, and went the extra mile and posted alternate resources.

Feel free to carry on the fight tho, put your own money and reputation on the line and publish all the copyrighted materials your heart desires, and we'll all give you our heartfelt support as the Christian Scientist folks cart away all of your personal belongings :-)

This is the end for slashdot (1)

Ananova (255600) | more than 13 years ago | (#359869)

By doing this they concede that they are responsible for everything on the site.

There previous claim, that they were a common carrier (like a phone company), a medium for comments to be posted, and were not liable for them, is gone.

This means:

1. Slashdot is liable for everything written on Slashdot. Libellous statements, illegal content, warez, and any thing criminal or tortious (a tort is a civil wrong, such as libel).

Censorship must come. -1 will be replaced with deletion

2. You better be worried. You, as a poster, are liable for what you write. Start shitting your pants.

Is what you wrote legal?

No?

Better contact your lawyers bud.

Still, it was never going to last. It's clear that by moderating comments, slashdot editors have revoked common carrier status and become publishers liable for all they write.

See, for instance, Demon, a UK ISP, who, on removing some Usenet posts for reasons of illegality, were held liable for every single post on their service, since they had become publishers in the eyes of tha law.

Watch out people.
--

Bull (1)

Ananova (255600) | more than 13 years ago | (#359870)

> And finally, any poster who uses the phrase "common carrier" in discussing this situation has no idea what it means. (Hint: "common carrier" is a term that refers ONLY to a very limited set of telecommunications companies: mainly the various Bells.)

That's not strictly accurate. You attempt to claim indemnity from prosecution for your comment by leaving them with the copyright. You are trying to retain some common carrier-like status.

--

Re:$cientology more powerful than Micro$oft (5)

mikethegeek (257172) | more than 13 years ago | (#359871)

"his would seem to mean that clearly Scientology is the more powerful evil corporation when it comes to asserting proprietary control over their technology"

I think you have a good point there. Socially, an evil, corrupt "religion" like Scientology is FAR more dangerous to society than ANY corporation.

Scientology is like the 1980's televangelists, only far worse. I've read xenu.net for quite some time. This is an organization that has a history of using "secret police" against their members AND people who dare dennounce them. They've been busted by the FBI more than once.

They hide behind copyright to keep outsiders from knowing the truth about them. I'd have to say that ANY religion that claims it's "bible" is copyrighted and proprietary would have to be viewed with suspicion...

Fortunately, Scientology isn't trying to convert the masses, which keeps them out of most people's lives. You can't BE a Scientologist unless you are filthy rich, because you have to pay vast sums of money for "training" etc. This isn't exactly a "church" that collects offerings to use for the poor. Scientology's one foothold is among the Hollywood Left, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, John Travolta, etc.

What Scientology WANTS to do, in my opinion, is convert the rich and powerful (who fund them), whereby they will get control over the masses.

What an example of how just totally evil the DMCA is as a law... It protects corporate cartels (MPAA), and for-profit "religions" (cult more properly describes Scientology though).

Shocked... (1)

tom_wilde (263804) | more than 13 years ago | (#359880)

Is the CoS a religion or a company?? If it's the latter then most of the hollywood studios are in deep do do because they've been quoting the bible since the movie business began... Kinda highlights the absurdity of the situation really.... *sigh*

Re:For free speech (3)

Maldivian (264175) | more than 13 years ago | (#359882)

Here is the full text [xs4all.nl] . Also Understand I'm posting this comment as a citizen of Maldives [google.com] and that Church of Scientology would not have jurisdiction over me or my comments.

For free speech (5)

Maldivian (264175) | more than 13 years ago | (#359883)

Fisherman's Affidavit [xs4all.nl] Sorry I couldnt past it cause of lameness filter.

Ugh... (1)

Scoria (264473) | more than 13 years ago | (#359884)

... Was someone posting Battlefield Earth: A Comedy Saga of the Year 3000 quotes again? I'd take it down voluntarily, too...

Re:Shocked... (2)

vidarh (309115) | more than 13 years ago | (#359901)

The difference, whether you like it or not (I don't like it), is that the bible predates copyright law, have unknown authors for the most part, and all the authors have been dead long enough that copyright would have expired anyway.

Even with Disney's and others massive lobbying to extend it... :-)

The CoS texts, on the other hand have been written in recent years, and has the same copyright protection as any other work. You may not agree that an organization claiming to be a church should be allowed to use copyright protection, but most religious organizations do - just rarely for their core religious texts.

But I suspect thats more a result of the age of most established religions, than a lack of interest in using copyright to protect income.

Re:What _exactly_ is the real problem here? (3)

vidarh (309115) | more than 13 years ago | (#359903)

You completely miss the point here. The DMCA would essentially made Slashdot liable if they refuse to take down material that are clearly in violation of copyright law, regardless of whether Slashdot owns or has any control over or liability for the post in question, and regardless of whether they are guilty in the initial violation of copyright law that occured when the posting was made.

The real problem here is the DMCA.

(Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer)

Re:Slashdot and Common Carrier status (2)

saundo (312306) | more than 13 years ago | (#359905)

Are you done with your ill-directed venting now? "Common carrier" does not mean what you think it means. The protections (and obligations) that common carrier status carries are not applicable to a forum such as slashdot. Slashdot does not meet any of the criteria laid down for a carrier. Your assertion that "all attempts to censor material should be fought" is a noble one, but ultimately, it's flawed. If you'd bothered to read the original explanation, then you would have seen that part about "copyright material" being the primary driver for the Scien*ology demand. Whether you agree with the Scien*ologists or not, the law on copyright applies equally to all who publish material - whether you agree with them or not. Even if the Scien*ologists are using copyright as a mask for their agenda to keep their organisation secrets, that doesn't change the fact that copyrighted material was posted and that if the matter was contested in court, /. would probably lose. As would kuro5hin. One parting thought - the moment you mentioned "founding principles" I knew you were trolling.

CENSORED (5)

BIGJIMSLATE (314762) | more than 13 years ago | (#359907)

*Comment removed by The Church of Scientology for violating Section 512 of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. All your rights are belong to us. And now that we're friends, come join us in our religion. Remember, if it wasn't for us, there would be no Battlefield Earth*

A blessing in disguise? (1)

qpt (319020) | more than 13 years ago | (#359909)

While at first glace, this appears to be a defeat for both Slashdot and freedom, perhaps this cloud has a silver lining.

The fact is, the post that prompted the controversy was illegal. You may argue whether or not it should be illegal, but that is a whole separate debate. Perhaps by standing up for legality and order, Rob Malda and Slashdot can server as a shining example for all of us who frequent the site.

I respect Malda for making a firm decisive decision regarding this, and I respect him all the more so for choosing to follow the law. I think that the value of law is often lost on people who post to Slashdot and it is good to see the site stand up for the principles that civilization is founded on.

One can only hope that this one act of courage will filter down throughout all of Slashdot and that we will collectively reconsider the law-breaking that we engage in every day. Perhaps free music and movies are not worth the price we pay by becoming criminals. Perhaps the open source movement is unjustified in stealing profits from commercial enterprises.

I do not pretend to have the answers, but I hope that this event will serve as a catalyst for a universal reconsideration of legality and morality by all that frequent Slashdot.

- qpt

Re:This is the end for slashdot (5)

SonnicJohnny (321966) | more than 13 years ago | (#359910)

"Slashdot is liable for everything written on Slashdot"

This action by Slashdot is not the end of Slashdot, nor is it legally binding (IANAL). It is nothing more than a prudent move in our current "Freedom of Speech" climate.

As we all know, Freedom of Speech does not exist in this country. When the constitution reads "Congress shall make 'no' law...", and those in congress interpret this as "Congress shall make 'some' laws...", then a move made to preserve your own existence could only be called prudent. We have to choose our battles.... in this case the comment itself was removed, but links can be provided and instructions for how to obtain the text through serch engines can also be provided.

One does not weather a storm by attempting to sail through it at full sail.

A Sad Day for Free Speech (1)

Warphal (322517) | more than 13 years ago | (#359911)

I feel for Slashdot folks. But the threat of legal action is enough for anyone who's put their heart and soul into a project like /. to do what they did. If they did'nt we could have woken up tomorrow - the day without the /.

Warphal
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