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17th January
2008
  

Impossible Censorship...

Scientologists litigate to get Tom Cruise Video off YouTube

Tom Cruise: An Unaurthorised Bigoraphy Scientologists are attempting to block the spread of a video clip in which Tom Cruise zealously espouses his faith in the church.

If you're on board, you're on board, just like the rest of us, he tells those of wavering faith. We are the authorities on getting people off drugs, we can rehabilitate criminals and unite cultures.

Cruise's emotional testimonial is accompanied by a guitar riff playing the theme from Mission: Impossible . Cruise, a Scientologist for 20 years, has recently emerged as one of the controversial church's most outspoken proselytisers. Some suggest that the actor has been elevated to one of the highest echelons of the secretive church, cryptically known as OT-VII.

Apparently meant for Scientologists' eyes only, the video is a nine-minute testimonial in which Cruise, wearing a black polo neck, encourages Scientologists to practise their faith relentlessly.

Infamously litigious, the Church of Scientology has been busy firing off lawsuits alleging breach of copyright wherever the video pops up, notably on YouTube and Google Video. Unfazed by potential legal issues, a number of gossip websites are busy re-posting the controversial video as soon as it disappears.

On Gawker.com, Nick Denton wrote: It's newsworthy, and we will not be removing it.

So far, the church is having little success in keeping the video off the internet, and as soon as it is taken down it pops up somewhere else. Not unlike the movie and music industries, the Church of Scientology is constantly battling with websites to prevent unauthorised distribution of its intellectual property.

 

22nd January
2008
  

Update: Unauthorised Unauthorized Biography...

Amazon.com won't export Tom Cruise book

Tom Cruise: An Unaurthorised Bigoraphy The publishers of Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography have told US Amazon not to send the book to customers from outside of the USA and Canada.

The following notice has now appeared on the page detailing the book :

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Publisher has authorized the distribution of this book only to customers within the United States and Canada.

However good old eBay has no problems getting this book to people outside North America.

It seems that a fair few enterprising individuals have bought stocks in the US and are distributing them via eBay.

 

27th January
2008
  

Update: Unauthorised Best Seller...

Tom Cruise book is selling well to Australia

Tom Cruise: An Unaurthorised Bigoraphy An underground market for the new unauthorised Tom Cruise biography has sprung up on auction site eBay, with Australian buyers willing to pay a significant premium for the book.

There were dozens of auctions for T om Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography - many offering multiple copies - and bidders willing to pay up to $61.50. The book is available on Amazon.com for about $30, including shipping.

The book is now number one on the Amazon best-seller list.

It will not be printed in Australia and US distributors have now said they will no longer export the book, by British author Andrew Morton, outside the US and Canada.

But eBay sellers are getting around the ban on the book by having partners make bulk retail purchases in the US.

We've got two shipments coming, the first is 150 books," said a man selling the books on ebay, Wojtek: We're buying multiples of 100 at a time. The demand is quite substantial, we need to get in as many as we can as quick as possible.

 

5th February
2008
  

Update: Dangerous Cult...

Anonymous hackers aim to protect free speech from scientology

Tom Cruise: An Unaurthorised Bigoraphy A group of internet hackers has launched an online campaign against the Church of Scientology.

The group, which calls itself Anonymous , has scored a couple of big successes, first by carrying out a denial of service attack on the Church of Scientology's international website, causing it to crash, and a sustained campaign of "Google bombing" - manipulating the way the internet search engine works - to ensure that the Church of Scientology is returned as the first hit whenever anyone enters the search string "dangerous cult".

The decision of hackers to target the church is believed to have stemmed from YouTube's decision to remove a video from the site showing Tom Cruise hailing Scientology as "a blast".

Anonymous allege that Scientologists forced YouTube to delete the highly embarrassing footage.

However, the Church of Scientology claims that the video, which was shot at a 2004 church anniversary event, was never intended for replay on television and the internet and had been placed on the internet in an out-of-context manner for the purpose of causing controversy.

The video is copyrighted, and the email request that it be removed was no different to what is routinely done by other owners of copyrighted materials whose works are pirated, such as the film, television and recording industries, said the Church of Scientology in a statement.

Global protests are planned for this Sunday, to voice concerns about the church's supposed love for "speech-suppression tactics" and "frivolous" legal injunctions to prevent criticism or discussion of the religion. Protesters are mobilising online on sites such as Facebook and YouTube. A video posted by Anonymous about its anti-Scientology campaign has been viewed more than 90,000 times and the group has its own "channel" on the video-sharing site.

According to a press release circulated by the protest group, Anonymous said that that group's goals include bringing an end to the financial exploitation of Church members and protecting the right to free speech.

It goes on to say that this alleged clamp-down on free speech was most evident on the recent attacks on websites such as Digg and YouTube, where the church filtered anti-Scientology comments and replaced their content with the text: 'This comment is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Church of Scientology International'.

Comment: Best Methods of Protest

From DarkAngel on the Melon Farmers Forum

Regarding those hackers doing "denial of service" attacks on the scientology websites, whilst I admire people wanting to stand up to this lot there is no way I can condone these illegal acts. These people are going to get themselves jailed if they're not careful.

There's a very good YouTube video criticising their methods from an anti-scientology campaigner who goes on to explain the best methods of protesting against them.

 

14th January
2009
  

Update: Weird Faith...

Scientologists set their lawyers on the Daily Mail

Scientology protestor Glosslip insiders have revealed that the Daily Mail’s story on Jett Travolta, titled Did John Travolta’s weird faith seal son Jett’s fate? was pulled from their website after threats from the Church of Scientology.

This is nothing new in the world of Scientology. Almost a year ago, gossip site Gawker was threatened with legal action from the highly litigious religion after posting a for Scientologist’s eyes only video featuring Tom Cruise discussing his strange religion. Gawker, citing fair use laws, refused to pull the video, and have been reaping a traffic bonanza since.

With the barrage of stories following the tragic death of 16-year old Jett Travolta, one has to wonder how much overtime the lawyers have been putting in trying to keep the media from looking too closely at their dangerous history of medical mishaps based on the groups anti-psychiatry beliefs.

 

9th September
2009
  

Update: Cult of Censorship...

Scientology calls for Australian laws to censor their critics

Scientology logo Scientology has called upon the Australian Government to censor the internet and media locally in direct response to protests from Anonymous.

In a long, rambling submission made to the Australian Human Rights Commission made earlier this year, the 'Church' attacks Anonymous calling them, among other things, a hate group of cyberterrorists that is engaged in a malicious campaign of hate that is an anathema to democracy.

The submission states:

In Australia Anonymous have mounted a sustained campaign of misinformation against the Church. As we are a minority religion with the vast majority of the population unaware of our true beliefs and humanitarian programs, their campaign has no justifiable purpose and violates the Church of Scientology's and parishioners rights to human dignity and religious freedom under the Constitution.

Scientology wants the Internet and media in Australia censored to prevent any negative stories being told about the church, and more, including:

  • Banning the use of domain name registration anonymity tools such as WhoisGuard by sites who talk about the church
  • The introduction of criminal sanctions for vilification of religion, including jail time for serious religious vilification.
  • The prohibition of concealing ones identity with a mask by people engaged in campaigns of harassment and vilification against religions (which they specifically mean Guy Fawkes masks.)

The statement gets worse:

It is recommended that a law be enacted to prevent the dissemination of antireligious propaganda in the media, which is based on unfounded hearsay and either known or reasonably known to be untruthful. Such dissemination shall be the subject of a civil penalty provision in favour of the defamed Church, and/or its individual parishioners if they are individually named or otherwise identified.

 

12th March
2010
  

Update: Censorial Sect...

Scientologists attempt to ban German TV film

ard logo Germany's state broadcaster is locked in a row with the Church of Scientology which wants to block an upcoming feature film that depicts the organisation as totalitarian and unethical.

Bis Nichts Mehr Bleibt , or Until Nothing Remains , dramatises the account of a German family torn apart by its associations with Scientology. A young married couple joins the organisation but as the wife gets sucked ever more deeply into the group, her husband, who has donated much of his money to it, decides to leave. In the process he loses contact with his young daughter who, like his wife, is being educated by Scientology instructors.

Scientology leaders have accused Germany's primary public TV network, ARD, of creating in top secret a piece of propaganda that sets out to undermine the group, and have demanded to see it before it is broadcast.

According to the makers of Until Nothing Remains , the €2.5m (£2.3 m) drama, which is due to air in a prime-time slot at the end of March, is based on the true story of Heiner von Rönns, who left Scientology and suffered the subsequent break-up of his family.

Scientology officials have said the film is false and intolerant. Jürg Stettler, a spokesman for Scientology in Germany said: The truth is precisely the opposite of that which the ARD is showing. The organisation is investigating legal means to prevent the programme from being broadcast. Stettler said the organisation was planning its own film to spread our own side of the story .

 

15th September
2012

 Update: The Master...

Filmmaker speaks of Scientology pressure against a film partly about L Ron Hubbard

master Scientologists in Hollywood tried to derail a movie inspired by the religion's founder, its studio claims. The Master was partly based on L Ron Hubbard, who founded Scientology in the 1950s.

Unnamed Scientologists applied lots of pressure to stop The Master being made and have it changed once filming began, studio head Harvey Weinstein said

We've had pressure and we've resisted pressure. Originally people said to me 'don't make it'. Lots of pressure.

And then, as we were making it, we had pressure to change it. Paul's not doing that and I didn't think he chose me [to work with] because I was going to acquiesce either.

The movie tells the story of a cult leader known as The Master, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, and a troubled World War II veteran, played by Joaquin Phoenix, who is drawn into his world. It won awards for acting and directing after its premiere at the Venice Film Festival and is seen as an early contender for The Oscars.

Asked about the reaction from Scientologists in Hollywood, Weinstein said:

I'm not going to get into names, but they feel strongly that they think it's a religion and as such they think the subject matter shouldn't be explored.

The Church of Scientology has denied trying to block the film.

 

16th January
2013

  Why can't we read the Scientology book Going Clear in the UK?...

Because of Britain's anti freedom of speech libel rules

Going Clear Scientology Hollywood Prison Just the title of Lawrence Wright's Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief tells you more than many books on the subject. Going Clear is a veritable book of revelations on L Ron Hubbard's sci-fi religion, exhaustively detailing its history, its methods and the depth of its weirdness.

Or so we're told. While Going Clear goes on sale in the US and the rest of Europe this week, you can't buy it in Britain. Not because it threatens national security, or features royal breasts, but because of our uniquely obliging libel laws.

Unlike in other countries, under English and Welsh law the burden of proof in defamation cases rests exclusively on the defendant, which means that if someone sues you, it's up to you to prove that it's true. If that someone is, say, a pharmaceutical company, or a church that believes in space people, then you're in for a long, expensive time in court, even if you win (legal costs here are up to 140 times higher than international norms). Hence Transworld's decision not to publish. The legal advice was that Going Clear's content was not robust enough for the UK market, they say.

 

15th May
2013

 Update: Reputation Management...

Google told to censor search suggestions when they are complained about

Germany flag A German federal court has told Google to censor the auto-complete results that its search engine suggests.

The court said Google must ensure terms generated by auto-complete are not contrary to the wishes of those that complain.

The court case was started by an unnamed German businessman who found that Google.de linked him with scientology and fraud . Google must now remove certain word combinations when told about them, said the court.

A person's privacy would be violated if the associations conjured up by auto-complete were claimed to be untrue, the federal court said in a statement about the ruling. However, it added, this did not mean that Google had to sanitise its entire index. The operator is, as a basic principle, only responsible when it gets notice of the unlawful violation of personal rights.

The ruling on auto-complete overturns two earlier decisions by lower German courts.

 

19th April
2015

 Update: Clear Censorship...

Sky cancels Scientology documentary over fears of libel claims via Northern ireland
Going Clear Scientology Hollywood Prison Plans to broadcast HBO's Church of Scientology exposé, Going Clear , have been shelved by Sky Atlantic in a virtual repeat of events two years ago, when UK publishers abandoned publication of the book on which the new TV documentary is based.

Sky originally indicated that the Alex Gibney-directed film, which alleges abusive practices at the 'religion''s US headquarters, would be transmitted in the UK earlier this month in step with its American release.

However, the Observer has learned that because Northern Ireland is not subject to the 2013 Defamation Act, the broadcaster could be exposed to libel claims from David Miscavige, the leader of the church, or others. This appears to have caused the company to postpone transmission, if not to cancel it entirely.

Sky is unable to differentiate its signal between regions, rendering the same programme potentially exposed to pre-reform libel laws in Northern Ireland, but shielded in Britain where, among free-speech safeguards and reforms designed to limit frivolous claims or libel tourism , people or organisations must now show serious harm to reputation.

Scientology leaders said in a statement:

The Church of Scientology will be entitled to seek the protection of both UK and Irish libel laws in the event that any false or defamatory content in this film is broadcast within these jurisdictions.

 

30th August
2015

 Diary: Going Clear but encrypted...

21st September 2015. Sky is set to broadcast Going Clear despite censorship pressure from the Scientology organisation
going clear Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief is a 2015 USA documentary by Alex Gibney.
Starring Lawrence Wright, Mike Rinder and Marty Rathbun. IMDb

A devastating two hour documentary based on Lawrence Wright's book of the same name. Scientology is laid bare by a film that skilfully knits together archive footage, testimonials from former high ranking officials and public, and dramatic reconstructions.

Sky Atlantic is to show a documentary on Scientology, despite legal pressure from the 'church'.

Alex Gibney's Going Clear traces the origins of the organisation and profiles former members, including Oscar-winning screenwriter Paul Haggis. It has alleged abusive practices at Scientology's US headquarters, which members have denounced as one-sided, bigoted propaganda .

The film premiered to wide acclaim in the US in March and was watched by 5.5 million viewers on HBO. It also garnered seven Emmy nominations.

The Church of Scientology has previously threatened to use the UK's libel laws to challenge any false or defamatory content if it is broadcast in the UK.

Although an initial screening, in April, was postponed, Sky has now confirmed it will be shown, without edits on 21 September. A spokesman for Sky told The Guardian:

Both Sky, and the producers of the film, have sought legal advice at every stage of the process and are confident the film complies with legal requirements in the territories in which we are screening the film.