On the afternoon of Thursday 4 December, the Church of Scientology lodged an appeal in cassation against the judgment of the Court of Appeal in The Hague in the case against Karin Spaink, XS4ALL and other internet providers.
- L. Ron Hubbard (see)
In this case, Scientology is accusing publicist Karin Spaink of infringement of copyright because she posted documents on Scientology doctrine on her website. Her aim in posting these documents was to initiate a social discussion on the nature of the sect. On 4 September the Court of Appeal in The Hague rejected all of Scientology’s claims. According to the Court, Karin Spaink’s right to freedom of speech in exposing the dubious doctrine of Scientology weighs more heavily than the copyright of the ‘church’.
The case has been running since 1995, when Karin Spaink first posted the documents – originally used in an American lawsuit – on her website. The computers on XS4ALL’s premises were seized. Karin Spaink, XS4ALL and twenty other providers whose subscribers had posted Scientology documents on their websites were summoned to attend interim injunction proceedings. The presiding judge rejected Scientology’s claims. A long drawn-out lawsuit ensued, in which the Court of Appeal in The Hague pronounced judgment in September.
In the appeal summons, (pdf – in Dutch) Scientology contests the appellate court’s statement that ‘Scientology does not hesitate to overturn democratic values’. The organisation also continues to take the line that providers are directly liable for any infringement of copyright by their subscribers. The case is of importance not only for the question of how far freedom of speech extends on the internet, but also in terms of the extent to which internet service providers (ISPs) are liable for the actions of their subscribers. The judgment of the Supreme Court is expected at the earliest in 18 months. Karin Spaink and XS4ALL are confident in the outcome of the case.
For further information, previous press releases and court judgments in this case, see:
For the documents in question, and a report on the case by Karin Spaink, see: