Posting of Scientology document on the Internet not “fair use”
VIRGINIA–A former member of the Church of Scientology violated copyright laws by posting church documents on the Internet, the federal District Court in Alexandria ruled in mid-January.
The court held that the “fair use” exception did not apply because the posting consisted of the entire document and contained virtually no additional editorial comment.
In early August 1995, the church brought suit against former member Arnaldo Lerma, alleging copyright infringement. Lerma had posted training materials from the Religious Technology Center, an arm of the Church of Scientology. Lerma received the materials from someone who obtained them from the court file of a case in California.
In mid-August, the church amended its complaint to include The Washington Post, after the Post published an article which included excerpts from the posted documents. The church asked the court to restrain the Post from publishing additional excerpts.
In mid-September, Judge Leonie Brinkema ruled that the Post’s use of the material fell under the fair use exception, because of the Post’s selective and limited use of the material, and the public’s interest in the ability of the paper to report the news.
Judge Brinkema’s order did not include an assessment of damages against Lerma. The church is seeking statutory damages for copyright violation as well as attorney’s fees. (Religious Technology Center v. Lerma; Defendant’s Counsel: Thomas Kelley, Denver)