Karin Spaink on 21 Jan 2001 00:27:24 -0000

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[Nettime-nl] Stockholm, day 1

[Feel free to distribute this. These court reports
are webbed at http://xenu.xtdnet.nl/court/ ]

Poor guy versus multinational cult
Stockholm, January 17, 2001

BY THE TIME that *this* court case will be
appealed, we will need a trailer. I am the beast
of burden. I am sitting in my wheelchair with my
laptop bag on my lap; on top of that, a huge
Samsonite containing most of Zenon's court files,
and on top of that again a plastic bag containing
the papers that wouldn't fit into the Samsonite.
My arms and hands are wrapped around the mountain
of bags to prevent them from shifting and falling.
Zenon is huffing and puffing: he needs to push
twenty-five kilos more than usual. This court case
is half my weight.

WE ARE IN STOCKHOLM for the appeal in Scientology
versus Panoussis. In 1996, Zenon did the same as
I, and more than a hundred people, had done in
1995 in The Netherlands: he put the Fishman
Affidavit on his homepage, a court file containing
parts of Scientology's higher course material, the
so-called OT-levels. Zenon got sued by
Scientology, just like me. The cult claimed
copyrights and secrecy.

Zenon contacted me in 1996. We became friends and
often mailed one another about our respective
court cases.

But Zenon did more that we in The Netherlands did.
He posted the NOTs, yet higher course material,
and, according to Scientology, yet more secret.
Moreover, when Scientology sued him, he deftly
used the Swedish "offentlighetsprincipen". This
constitutional principle states that every citizen
has the right to access all documents that are in
the possession of the state, unless these
documents contain state secrets or exclusively
relate to private matters. Citizens may request
copies of all government documents. Zenon filed
the OTs and NOTs with the court and Parliament
(riksdagen), thus ensuring that anybody could
access these files or could ask for a copy for a
small administrative fee. The result? The material
that Scientology had chased with such vehemence -
raiding providers, organisations and individuals
over them; threatening, intimidating and suing
people over them - these documents were suddenly
legally available, official stamps and all.

Scientology got furious and managed to incite the
US - the cult's claws reach far - to start a
diplomatic row with Sweden over this
constitutional offentlighetsprincipen. The US even
threatened Sweden with a trade boycott if Sweden
didn't stop its official distribution of the OTs
and NOTs. After three years of diplomatic and
legal bickering, Sweden limited the constitution
that they took such great pride in: from then on,
unpublished material from third parties was no
longer covered by the offentlighetsprincipen.

Meanwhile, Zenon moved to Amsterdam. We became
lovers. "We were brought together by Scientology"
became our standard joke.

IN SEPTEMBER 1998 the ruling in Scientology's case
against Zenon was given: Zenon lost on most
counts. The court ruled that neither the OTs nor
the NOTs were legally published, and thus nobody
was allowed to possess private copies, nor could
one quote from them. They ordered Zenon to pay
Scientology some 2000 USD damages and more than
150,000 USD in legal fees. Scientology had claimed
almost two million dollars in legal fees, a
ridiculously high amount for Swedish standards,
but even this 150,000 dollars was unprecedented.
Hardly surprising, Zenon couldn't pay that money ,
and Scientology confiscated most of his salary in
The Netherlands. For more than two years he has
been living under the level of minimum
subsistence; and yet, what Scientology confiscates
every month doesn't even cover the legal interest
on the main sum. The most cynical aspect of all
this is that afterwards, in my case the Dutch
court ruled that the OTs should be regarded as
having been legally published, a ruling that was
to a great extent based on testimonies delivered -
guess - in Zenon's court case.

Mangled material
Stockholm, January 18

All proceedings must be verbal; the written
preparations just serve as a background and what
is not said, does not officially count. That is
why this court case will last five days.

Magnusson, Scientology's attorney, opens with a
tiresome enumeration of Zenon's misdeeds and
misbehaviours. Posted this, webbed that, material
filed here, copy made there, said this, did that,
in September… in October… in May. I am on the
verge of falling asleep, I know this song too well
by now. Besides, Magnusson is not a gifted speaker
at all. The court - five judges, one of them a
trainee who serves as the clerk - listens without
much interest. They know this story too. Magnusson
is so slow that he doesn't manage to reach the
part where he outlines the grounds for his
complaints. He'll continue tomorrow. Now it's
Zenon's turn first.

The court hopes that he will simply plead guilty
on many counts, so that deliberations about those
acts can be dismissed. And Zenon is quite willing
to do so: he has never denied having webbed parts
of the OTs nor denies having posted the NOTs, but
Scientology accuses him of much more. *That* he
will fight. And he wants to win at least one
point. He is even prepared to settle or to admit
guilt on *all* counts as long as he gets this
particular one: a declaration that the OTs and
NOTs are legally published. From that one
concession or confirmation a series of important
rights and consequences follow, and Zenon is
prepared to sacrifice everything in order to
establish these rights: the right to possess
copies of the OTs and NOTs for private use, the
right to quote from them, and thus, of course,
re-establishing every citizen's right to demand a
copy of the OTs and NOTs under
offentlighetsprincipen. (If legal publication is
established, the limitation that the Swedish law,
after pressure exerted from Scientology and the
US, has put on offentlighetsprincipen would no
longer apply to the OTs and NOTs.)

In Zenon's case, just like in mine, Scientology
claims infringement in much more instances than
they are willing to - or can - prove. With respect
to the OT-fragments included in the Fishman
Affidavit, Scientology in my case has only shown
some evidence regarding OT2 and OT3. For the other
fragments they claim copyright as well but they
have refused to come up with even the tiniest
shred of evidence. Zenon knows that they wouldn't;
after al, he webbed the Fishman Affidavit after my
case had been brought before court, and he
challenged them on their faint evidence and their
all too extensive claims.

The case against him was already well on its way
when Zenon filed a new, even thicker stack of NOTs
with the court. Scientology immediately claimed
copyright to those as well and demanded secrecy.
They even had a notary public compare this thick
stack to the original, unmasked NOTs, and upon
doing a random comparison, she established that
this thick stack contained nothing but pure,
unadulterated NOTs.

BUT THEY WEREN'T original NOTs. That is to say:
just a few were. Of this stack of two hundred
alleged NOTs, only eight were authentic; the rest
had been mangled. Zenon had posted on a.r.s.,
asking people to send him Monkey NOTs, and he had
received them in abundance. Some ten of them were
NOTs that had been 'translated' using programs
that produce dialects: there were Swedish Cheffed
NOTs, Jived NOTs, and Rastafarian NOTs - hence,
satire, not originals. "Hjändle åll sjuch Björks
ånd cljusters by blöwing them öff.," that kind of
stuff. Moreover, hundred and eight-five were cut
up and mangled. To mangle them, you do this: you
take a paragraph from a text, use it as a 'seed'
and input it to a program, and the output is a
full page of mixed-up phrases, illogical sentences
and weird grammar - but full of faintly familiar
phrases. "Those are our NOTs!" Scientology
exclaimed, and the notary public agreed with them.
Not true: they are nonsensical, gibberish,
Jabberwocky'ed texts, Zenon explained to the
court, and what is more: the fact that Scientology
claims copyright on these texts proves that one
should take their claims with not a grain but a
pound of salt.

The court looks confused.

"Take a look at page so-and-so of my appeal brief,
Zenon says, and points the court to a page that
looks familiar: "... copyright infringement ...
taking into consideration that ... plaintiff
stated that ... in a ruling dated ..." The court
nods, they know this text. It is part of the
ruling of the pervious court in Scientology versus
Panoussis, the ruling that is being appealed right
now. "Please read the text carefully," Zenon asks,
and is silent. The court raises an eyebrow and
reads. After a few seconds, more eyebrows are
raised. This text doesn't make any sense, it has
no head nor tail. It's plainly gibberish. The
judges look at one another, quizzed. "This text is
the result of a real paragraph of the ruling
having been mangled in the same way as the Monkey
NOTs that I filed and to which Scientology claims
copyright," Zenon explains. No reaction. "I wanted
to prove that Scientology claims copyright to any
text that contains a few of their phrases, so I
mangled a paragraph of the previous court's ruling
in order to demonstrate the scope of that claim.
Scientology claiming that the mangled NOTs are
theirs, amounts to this court accepting this
gibberish as a valid and legal ruling." Slowly,
things start falling in place. The one judge after
the other grabs the mangled NOTs, picks up the
mangled ruling and compares it to the actual
ruling, and they understand what has been going
on. Fuck. So *this* is what Scientology claims
copyright to? And they got a notary to confirm
their claim?

We really need to investigate those claims, the
court thinks. You can see it on their faces.

Zenon sits back, happy. This is exactly what he
wanted to attain when he filed these mangled NOTs,
and Scientology fell into the trap that he had set
up for them. Point scored.

reassembles himself. He informs the court that he
has re-ordered the evidence that he has filed and
has created a new set of binders for the court.
Aides go up to the bench and to both parties, and
deposit ten new binders in front of all of them.
Zenon just got another ten kilos of paper thrown
into my lap.

Karin Spaink
Stockholm, 18 januari 2001

Fishman Affidavit:

The Dutch court on publication of the Fishman Affidavit:
Ruling in summary proceedings: March 12, 1996:
Ruling in full procedure, June 9, 1999:

Reports on the May 1998 hearings in Zenon's court case:
(and onwards)

news:alt.religion.scientology has fallen pry - for
the umpteenth time - to another attack. After a
few days of rogue cancels that made all postings
disappear (and the ensuing reposting of them by
resurrection bots), from January 16 on more than
thousand garbage postings are pumped into the
newsgroup, in attempt to flood the real postings.

- K -


Zwei Dinge sind unendlich: Die Dummheit und das All 
Nur die Liebe und das Wetter hören nimmer, nimmer auf 
  - Einstürzende Neubauten: Was ist ist

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