By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
The Loan Arranger
Regarding Patricia Calhoun's "Checking Out," in the October 4 issue:
Ms. Calhoun, surely even you can accept this basic fact: If you take out a loan, you are expected to pay it back. I am sorry that the Fords may lose their business, but they didn't have to make that deal with the city.
With all the money that the city has poured into improvements on Welton Street, it is unbelievable that RTD didn't plan a light-rail stop by Five Points Plaza. Don't these people talk to each other? My heart goes out to the Fords, who got sucked into this mess.
Alan Prendergast's October 4 article, "Stalking the Net," was very informative, even for someone who surfs the newsgroup "alt.religion.scientology" regularly. It is the most complete and detailed report about the FACTNet litigation I have seen till now. I am very glad that your article makes a difference, because I have noticed that the Scientology topic is too hot for too many U.S. newspapers.
Scientology is not recognized around the world, as the Scientologists like to say it is. This year the German federal labor court decided that Scientology uses "religion" only as a cover to do business. And this is only one of several recent lost lawsuits.
When I first discovered how Lawrence Wollersheim's office was broken into and his computers seized, I was appalled. When I learned that it was done by Scientologists given the order by federal marshals, I was angered but not surprised. Scientology has become one of the most politically powerful "religious" organizations in America for two reasons: It has a wealth base that is enormous, and it has some of the best lawyers money can buy.
Why is this the case? All one has to do is look at the fees Scientology charges its members and at the long list of court cases and attacks by former members. Why are former members constantly attacking the Church? When it comes right down to it, Scientology deals with people's most tender emotions, and often it can become dangerous and destructive. In my situation, I was seeking spiritual guidance from Scientology and found myself excommunicated from the Church because I didn't have enough money to pay the exorbitant fees and was unwilling to give my life and belongings away to serve the Church. This organization operates as a "self-help," multibillion-dollar business under the smokescreen of being registered as a "nonprofit" church. These people are taught (brainwashed) to fight for their organization at an unrelenting pace. I remember being told how to defend the Church almost more than how to "cross the bridge toward self-enlightenment." There are endless documents written by L. Ron Hubbard on how to protect the Church from outside attacks.
We all lose when these powerful, money-driven organizations interfere with our right to free speech and privacy. Lawrence Wollersheim's right to speak freely on the Internet about his anger toward Scientology is being squashed only because he doesn't have the funds to stand up to such a huge, multimillion dollar "church."
It's time Alan Prendergast went back to journalism school. He was sleeping when copyright law was taught, and he has also failed to notice that the American public has grown tired of seeing criminals painted as victims.
Copyright laws originated with the International Berne Convention in 1886, which protected an author's right over his works "whatever may be the mode or form of its reproduction." That is the spirit of all subsequent copyright laws--to protect the author or copyright holder. True, the Internet did not exist at the time of the Berne Convention. Neither did TV, radio or the photocopy machine, yet you don't see anyone using that as a justification for violating the law on these mediums.
Lawrence Wollersheim is not the poor innocent victim Prendergast tries to portray. He broke the law by scanning copyrighted documents into his computer and posting them on the Internet for others to read. Whether these are church scriptures or the Scientology books sold on bookstore shelves makes little difference. They are still copyrighted materials which cannot be reproduced without the copyright-holder's permission.
The Internet stands to lose a great deal if copyright law is not enforced. Should the Net fail to enforce the standards and laws of the communications media, it will find the government doing it for them. Don't think it won't happen--it already has. Problems in Telluride have resulted in "sysops" monitoring the town's electronic bulletin board and deleting material they consider inappropriate before it can be read by others.
An author or copyright holder has both the right to be upset and the responsibility to enforce his copyright if he sees one of his works reproduced on any medium without his permission. The court sees this and has ruled in favor of the Church of Scientology. Judge John Kane has ordered that all materials, including those now in Wollersheim's possession, be protected under seal in the custody of the court. Had Alan Prendergast ever written anything of market value, he too would understand this and stick to the facts.