The Church of Scientology

Copyright and Trade Secret Issues on the Internet

Court Rules For Internet Copyright Protection

This is an information summary which contains the details necessary for Internet users to understand the events, background and issues of the equity and law that pertains to the Church of Scientology's fight for its First Amendment right of free religious exercise — as well as its rights under the copyright and trade secret laws.

Those rights are being infringed on by apostates who have no regard for the law and, if they had their way, would bring about anarchy and widespread damage.

More comprehensive information about the Scientology religion is available on the home page of Leisa Goodman, Media Relations Director of the Church of Scientology International, the mother church of the Scientology religion. Leisa is also reachable by e-mail at Or you may contact the Church at the address at the bottom of this page.

The Scientology religion includes the fundamental belief that the spiritual destiny — indeed, the very salvation of every man, woman and child in the universe — depends upon the precise application of Scientology religious technology as laid out by the founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

The Church has made extensive efforts to make its core beliefs and practices known and available to everyone. The Church recently published two major volumes, What Is Scientology? and The Scientology Handbook, which verbally and pictorially set forth the Church's codes, creeds, policies, practices, membership, social reform and community activities, and much, much more. Few religions have worked so hard to make its central tenets and activities broadly known through books, booklets, and audio-visual properties.

A small portion of the Church's scriptures are not broadly released but are only made available to parishioners who have completed prior steps of religious study and counseling. More than a decade ago, a handful of apostates conspired to steal a segment of these materials from a Church in Denmark. One of them later returned to Denmark and was arrested, prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned for the theft. The other two who participated in the crime also face prison if they ever return to Denmark.

The stolen materials were seized, but the criminals and their cohorts wrongfully held onto copies despite a court order. From time to time, these thieves and their associates have attempted to disseminate these materials, but have been prevented from doing so by the Church. The outcome has included raids, seizures and also judgements affirming that these confidential, unpublished scriptures are protected by copyright and trade secrets laws. For example, in May 1993 the U.S. District Court in San Diego stated that, “... information contained in [Scientology] religious organizations' materials was trade secret... [and] was disclosed only to those who had acquired requisite level of spiritual training.”

Eventually, this tiny clique of apostates connived to dump the materials into a court file in a slander case. They had no relevance whatsoever to the case, which concerned whether a felon convicted of obstruction of justice for trying to frame the Church had, while in jail, repeated his felonious allegation. Dumping the materials in the court file was solely a tactical maneuvre to make them accessible to the media as “public documents” and attempt to pressurize the Church into “paying off” the apostate clique, prejudice the judge in the post-trial fees and costs determinations and probably to inflame other members of the judiciary. The Court refused even to read the materials.

Subsequently, a few apostates among this criminal band unlawfully disseminated portions of these materials on the Internet. The Church has taken legal actions against the perpetrators to enforce its rights. Consequently, federal judges have on several occasions in recent months directed law enforcement officers to seize computer equipment or software used by infringers to make illegal postings of copyrighted Scientology religious works, also issuing temporary restraining orders against the infringers.

The Issues are Clear-cut

  1. The scriptures are private, unpublished writings.

    The materials in question, religious in character, have been confidential scriptures from the moment the information in them was discovered and recorded in writing by L. Ron Hubbard. They are private writings addressed solely to spiritually advanced parishioners by the founder of a religion. For adherents of the religion — or indeed anyone — to be exposed to these materials prior to having completed the requisite spiritual steps would impede, not assist, their spiritual progress. This belief is as fundamental to the Scientology religion as the belief in Resurrection is to Protestants, as a literal interpretation of the Bible is to Fundamentalist Christianity, as strict adherence to dietary laws is to certain Jewish sects or as a belief in the absolute sanctity of life is to devout Catholics.

  2. The materials are stolen and have been used for improper purposes.

    A handful of lawless apostates who try to harm the Scientology religion have attempted, through unauthorized and illegal means, to dictate to Scientologists how to practice their religion. These people would never be given access to these materials by the Church, because they are spiritually unprepared and ethically unworthy. Their plan is clear — to obtain the broadest unauthorized dissemination of these illegally obtained materials so as to claim (without justification) that their trade secret status is lost.

  3. Court rulings protect the materials.

    Trade secret and copyright law, as the courts have found, protect these materials. These laws are the secular vehicle for safeguarding the rights of the Church and its parishioners to practice their religion as set forth by its founder.

  4. Those intent on destroying the religion have no right to dictate to its parishioners how it should be practiced.

    To allow these haters to take control of the Church's scriptures out of the hands of the Church and its members would be analagous to giving control of Jewish dogma to a pack of Nazis who have publicly stated their intent to destroy the religion.

  5. Illegal dissemination of the materials would cause financial harm to the Church.

    The Church faces economic harm from what would be essentially black market trafficking in its protected works and attempts to dissuade individuals from becoming Scientologists by holding its scriptures up to derision.

  6. The spiritual future of millions is at stake.

    A criminal clique of apostates came by the materials unlawfully. If they were allowed to succeed, their aim would be the destruction of the spiritual future of every Scientologist — and indeed every man, woman and child — on earth. This is not exaggeration nor an overstatement of Scientology beliefs. It is a tenet of the religion that what is at stake here is the route to salvation for all.

    The number of individuals involved in these intrigues against the religion is very small — less than two dozen. The so-called “public dissemination” that they claim is essentially gossip within their own clique. In every instance of illegal distribution of these materials over the Internet and elsewhere, the Church is locating the individuals involved, attempting to get them to voluntarily cease their infringing conduct and if they refuse, taking legal action.

List of Contents

Further information is available in the documents below: