Church Of Scientology Uses Copyright, Trademark, And Cyberbullying Laws To Silence Critical Parody

from the still-not-a-religion dept

For faith-based hilarity, you just can’t do any better than the Church of Scientology. These photoshop masters have built for themselves the kind of reputation normally reserved for Stasi-style secret police. The constant target of Anonymous, ex-members, and every critical-thinking person on the planet are best known for gobbling up shallow celebrities, creepily persecuting critics and ex-members, and possessing the monumental testicles required to include a freaking space opera in their faith. As part of their attempts to silence critics, they’ve regularly run up against the wider internet, often using IP laws to gag speech.

Well, it turns out you just can’t teach a kinda-old non-religion religion new tricks. Reader John alerts us to a case in which the Church of Scientology is using copyright, trademark and cyberbullying laws to silence a parody criticizing the “church”, Will Smith, and the attempt to destroy film making commonly known as After Earth. Recently, they demanded that GoDaddy nix, which parodied the church and the film, over the use of their logos, a letter from church-leader David Miscavige, a photo of the same Miscavige, and a parody portrayal of Mr. Miscavige.

Pointing to the presence of CSI logos and a photograph of Mr. Miscavige on the site, CSI told GoDaddy the site violated CSI’s copyright and trademark rights, and asked the company to take it down. GoDaddy promptly complied. CSI also claimed that the creators of the site had violated California Penal Code section 528.5, which forbids the credible impersonation of a human person online. Section 528.5 was intended to be used to combat cyberbullying; as we anticipated, however, it’s now being used to target political speech.

As the EFF notes while placing the Church of Scientology on their takedown hall of shame list, we have some major problems here. First, the copyright claim fails on the grounds of fair use, since the use was critical parody, with only the necessary usage used therein. The trademark claim is also pitiful for many of the same reasons, though we can add that the website was not attempting to compete in the market of religion with the “church.” As for the penal code claim, it is true that that law was meant to combat cyberbullying, but I think the EFF might be off when they say:

Finally, the claim that the site violated the California Penal Code is equally absurd. Section 528.5 applies only to “credible” impersonations. No viewer would think the site offered a credible impersonation of Mr. Miscavige.

Au contraire, bonjour. Given the absurdity of the actions by these clowns, it would take a great deal to convince me of anything in which they are not capable. However, I don’t think their own depravity is reason for which they could be charged with cyberbullying.

So congratulations, Scientologists. You’ve now made the EFF hall of shame. And if you don’t like how you’re portrayed there or here, you can go audit yourselves.

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Comments on “Church Of Scientology Uses Copyright, Trademark, And Cyberbullying Laws To Silence Critical Parody”

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Anonymous Coward says:

when this sort of incident occurs, not only are those that want something removed going against the very reasons that laws were written and going past the boundaries, others quickly follow suit. in this case, it was GoDaddy that acted even worse. there ought to be a chance for the hosting company to check out the validity of claims, with no comeback on them, before simply taking the ‘offending’ material down. because there is no period of ‘grace’, the take downs are implemented immediately, which makes the instructor of the take down get all puffed up, full of piss and importance, ready to do the same next time. we see this happening all the time with the entertainment industries. they are frequently the portrayers of bad tidings and very often have no right to make the claims they do. this, however, would be a sensible approach, but as it would mean having Congress involved, there isn’t a hope in Hell of it happening. Congress are the least qualified when it comes to using sense, unless it’s nonsense, of course!

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Excellent point. After all, those who practice religion (ANY religion) aren’t human: they’re inferior primates. They’ve failed the qualifying intelligence test to be considered homo sapiens.”

I hope you’re being sarcastic, but in case you’re not the exact opposite is true. It one of the prime homo sapien traits to wish for, manufacture, and worship gods. It is a human trait in the same way that sexual lust is, or aggression, or many of the other things that progressive, intellectual societies have worked to drive out of us.

There’s nothing inhuman about religion, only inhumane.

Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

Not even "kinda-old"

Judiasm is old.
It’s younger brother, Christianity (as in the Catholic Church and everyone who broke off from them) is old. Their half-brother Islam is also old.

Their redheaded stepbrother Mormonism/LDS is what qualifies as “kinda-old”.

Scientology is the bratty toddler who comes from Mister Fraud’s house down the street. It does not qualify as “kinda-old”.

Sigh. I still think the only reason they ever got tax exemption was because their was a scientologist plant at the IRS who granted it to them.

Kind of surprised that it took scientology so long to get into the EFF’s Hall of Shame (part of me sort of expected them to be in there already. Learn something new every day I guess.)

Arnie Lerma (user link) says:

I was raided and sued for tradesecret and copyright in 1995

They admitted spending 1,740,000 (1995 dollars) trying to get rid of me. They sued ME and three times tried to settle the case, with larger and larger sums of money so they might seal the case: Quotes from USDJ Leonie Brinkema

“the Court is now convinced that the primary motivation of RTC [$cientology] in suing Lerma, DGS and The Post is to stifle criticism of Scientology in general and to harass its critics.”

“Scientologists believe that most human problems can be traced to lingering spirits of an extraterrestrial people massacred by their ruler, Xenu, over 75 million years ago. These spirits attach themselves by “clusters” to individuals in the contemporary world, causing spiritual harm and negatively influencing the lives of their hosts “

More here:

Oh, and it is not a religion, it is a hypnotic scam.

Grover (profile) says:

Creating Religion

So, basically, anyone can ‘create’ a religion. Were there Rules for Religions when Hubbard opened shop, or maybe a Religion for Dummies-style of guide? Shouldn’t there be a litmus test for religious credibility? I mean, wouldn’t someone have to have x-amount of followers to qualify…or a special, currently-not-in-use extraterrestial entity to adulate…or maybe a golden calf? Hold up, that one’s been done. Seriously, how can reasonably intelligent, first-world people fall for such snake oil? Alien spirits? And this qualifies as a religion? Seriously?

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