The legal battle that the Church of Scientology has conducted against XS4ALL and Karin Spaink reached its grand finale today. The Dutch Supreme court dismissed Scientology’s claims, which means that a decade of legal skirmishes has finally come to an end. The Supreme Court decided that the previous ruling, which was in favour of XS4ALL and Spaink, still holds. Scientology lost again. Freedom of speech prevailed over the alleged copyright of the Scientology Church, and Spaink can quote from Scientology’s higher – and supposedly secret – course levels.
In July this year, a few days before the Supreme Court was to rule upon the case, Scientology suddenly dropped its appeal. XS4ALL and Spaink formally objected this withdrawal: it is a known Scientology tactic to draw out its legal battles, and to suddenly drop them when it appears that they will lose the case. The Supreme Court accepts the cult‘s withdrawal, thereby pre-empting the need for a legal evaluation of the case. Attorney-general Verkade had advised a different strategy: he had wanted the Supreme Court to accept Scientology’s withdrawal while still judging the merits of the case. Earlier, Verkade had advised the Supreme Court to dismiss all Scientology’s claims against XS4ALL and Spaink. Apparently, the Supreme Court thinks that it needn’t add its own assessment to that of previous courts.
All in all, XS4ALL and Spaink have gained four victories (summary proceedings, full proceedings, appeal, dismissal of appeal). After more than ten years of legal battling, freedom of speech has finally prevailed. Criticism on the internet cannot be quenched by appealing to copyright.
Because the Supreme Court has accepted Scientology’s withdrawal, the Church cannot turn to the European Court. The European Court is only a recourse when all national means have been explored, and Scientology was too afraid to do so. That means that the battle is over and has been won by XS4ALL and Spaink.
XS4ALL and Spaink will celebrate this victory during the XS4ALL festival on freedom of speech on the internet on the afternoon of Saturday, 28 January in the Melkweg. For more information on the festival see: http://www.leidsepleintheaters.nl/xs4all.html (NL)
There is a special victory t-shirt available to customers, and can be ordered via:
Dec. 16, 2005 Press Release