(OPENPRESS) October 13, 2005 — The Church of Scientology has threatened legal action in order to take over ownership of the domain name of a web site which links to the odd behaviour of one of the world’s most famous scientologists, Tom Cruise.
www.ScienTOMogy.info has apparently received dozens of faxes and emails in under a week from Scientology representatives including lawyer Ava Paquette of Moxon & Kobrin threatening lawsuits of up to US$100,000 if the domain name ownership is not transferred. This type of letter is often called a cease and desist letter.
There have been criticisms from civil liberties and free speech groups that cease-and-desist letters are often used by wealthy individuals and corporations to bully their less-monied opponents into silence, as many people will comply with even an unjustified cease-and-desist letter due to their unwillingness to engage in an expensive lawsuit. Such groups call this a chilling effect on free speech.
The owners of http://www.scienTOMogy.info who are based in New Zealand have posted the complaints and their replies, saying that the site simply expresses opinion, does not make any claims, and clearly states that it has no connection to the Church of Scientology. “The site was put up as a single source to view all the recent hype Tom has made about the church – it does nothing but show Tom, so we are at a loss as to why the church is acting so rashly.”
The Church of Scientology is notorious for pursing legal action against its critics, under the name of the “Religious Technology Center” (RTC). It previously made headlines when it used the US’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act to remove xenu.net, a site critical of Scientology, from Google’s listings. In the past the church has been accused of sueing all those who oppose their views rightly or wrongly simply as “nuisance suits” aimed at eventually driving the critic into silence.
Full details and all documentatrion can be seen at http://www.scientomogy.info/threats.htm
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