Tuesday, September 9, 2003

Scientology loses hyperlinks case

"The Church of Scientology has lost a courtroom battle to compel a Dutch writer and her Internet service provider to remove postings from a Web site, in a ruling that keeps hyperlinks to copyrighted material legal."


"In denying the appeal, the court also overturned two previous rulings lower courts had handed down. One of these decided that ISPs should be held accountable for any illegal or copyrighted materials posted by their subscribers and that ISPs should take down hyperlinks to such materials. An Xs4all representative cited the overruling of that decision as the larger of the two victories.

“I think this establishes an important freedom of speech precedence for the Internet and ISPs in particular,” said Edith Mastenbroek, an Xs4all spokeswoman. “Any laws set to control how ISPs interact with copyright laws must be made crystal clear.”


"The church … contended that the ISP should be held accountable for its subscribers’ activities in regards to copyrights."

"But a District Court of Amsterdam judge ruled in favor of Xs4all and its 1996 subscribers, saying the posted documents were legal, based on individuals’ rights to quote from copyrighted material.

"In a second lawsuit decided in 1999, the Amsterdam courts again ruled in favor of the ISP, citing the right to freedom of speech. However, in that ruling, the judge ruled that ISPs should be held accountable for posted materials that might violate existing laws and copyrights.

"That 1999 decision also made reference to hyperlinks to materials that might infringe on copyrights. The ruling said if a provider was made aware of illegal publishing of copyrighted materials, or hyperlinks to copyrighted information, it should take action and remove the Web site or links.

"Friday’s appellate ruling quashed that decision as well."


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