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Letter to Davies Ryan De Boos
The reply letter. They stopped bothering me after this one.
XX Xxxxxxx Street
Prahran VIC 3181
Wednesday 14th May, 1997
Davies Ryan De Boos
attn: Ian R. Taylor
1 Little Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
By Receipted Hand Delivery and E-mail
Dear Mr Taylor,
I am writing concerning the matter of RTC and the 'NOTs' material of the Church of Scientology, as we discussed on Thursday afternoon (8th May) by phone. (I apologise for this reply letter coming a day later than I originally said it would.)
I wish to confirm the essential points discussed:
Could you please resubmit a form of undertaking which takes into account our discussion as above, and confirms your understanding of the points covered, as detailed above.
- We had initial technical difficulties in achieving communication. The courtesy email sent before the registered letter was in a special format ('Lotus Notes uuencode', a format I have no suitable tools to read) rather than plain text, with a non-working return address, AnnaStiskal_at_Melbourne@dccgate.davies.com.au . I received the registered letter on Wednesday 30th April and called your office on Friday 2nd May and left my phone number for your return call. The number was written down incorrectly by the person receiving the message (as 9xxx xxyx), and you attempted to call me on that incorrect number over the following three days. You then sent an e-mail message (received by me at approximately 6:15pm on Tuesday 7th May) detailing your attempts to get in touch and asking me to call you. I e-mailed a reply (that the correct number was 9xxx xxxx) to your second e-mail's return address, AnnaStiskal_at_Melbourne@dccgate.davies.com.au (which did not get through again) and to email@example.com as stated on your letterhead (which did get through), and called you the following day (Wednesday 7th May), leaving a message giving my correct phone number. Finally, the day after that (Thursday 8th May), I called and we spoke at last.
- I confirmed with you that your clients were the US corporation Religious Technology Centre, acting in Australia through the Church of Scientology.
- I stated that I considered the agreement demanded by your clients excessive and overreaching, and that it basically constituted a gag order; and, given that I had very little money and few assets and was unemployed, I could hardly do worse than such an agreement even were I to lose in a court action. However, I was entirely willing to discuss the matter at length to see if an agreement could be reached.
- We discussed the terms demanded by your clients in turn:
1. That you, your servants and agents immediately cease and forever desist from reproducing, publishing, distributing or in any other way dealing with (including but not limited to dealings on the Internet, in newspapers and in magazines) any computer files, documents or things which amount to a reproduction or a substantial reproduction of the Copyright Works or any other works in which our client holds copyright.
- I pointed out that this term covers all works of Scientology, and in fact everything written by L. Ron Hubbard that was not fiction.
- I pointed out that this term as written excludes quotation for criticism or for exposure in the public interest, for instance exposure as criminal instruction manuals. Thus, the term would be an agreement never to engage in any criticism of Scientology whatsoever that involved quotation of the work at all, and that I found this to be an unacceptable limitation on my present freedom of speech to criticise Scientology and to draw public attention to matters of concern.
- I also pointed out that RTC counsel has repeatedly legally threatened many people internationally, including myself, over a mere six lines quoted for criticism from a longer work - which would imply that they regard such usage as a violation. You expressed surprise that they would respond in this manner. I pointed out that even a lawsuit that gets thrown out immediately is onerous to have brought against one in the first place.
- I pointed out that RTC has been sending legal demands over this matter, and the Church of Scientology has been calling by phone and sending staff over personally, to the administrators of many Internet systems I use, such as suburbia.net (where I maintain an extensive World Wide Web site concerning Scientology) and Tertius Computing [tertius.net.au], and even the service providers to such systems (e.g. AUSNet Services [world.net], Cinemedia [cinemedia.net] and GlassWings [glasswings.com.au]), claiming that I have posted such works through their systems and demanding that action against me be taken immediately, before having contacted me in any manner whatsoever, despite Scientology having my e-mail address, phone number and mailing address; and that I considered this use of legal demands to be harassment (of myself and the Internet providers in question) in an attempt to silence me.
- I said that that including a line about fair dealing for criticism or for other purposes, such as the public interest, that are fair dealing under the relevant section of the Copyright Act would be necessary in the event that I was to agree to a term similar to this first one.
That you will immediately delete, or arrange to be deleted, all computer files in your possession, custody or control or in the possession, custody or control of your servants or agents containing information which amounts to a reproduction or a substantial reproduction of the Copyright Works or any other works in which our client holds copyright.
- I said that I did not have such files, and did not intend to obtain such files.
- I pointed out that were someone to wish to copy an entire work for publication in whatever form on the Internet, it would not be necessary to have a copy in one's possession in any case. You expressed great surprise at this, and I explained how a file could be obtained from a site anywhere in the world and put on a site somewhere else in the world or posted to the Usenet newsgroups (the Internet distributed message system, thus going to thousands of sites around the world automatically), without ever touching the person's own personal computer, if they even possessed one; although such an action would likely be a copyright violation in the normal course of events.
- I said that a statement that I did not and had not had any such files (of works owned or controlled by RTC) in a violation of copyright on any PC that I owned or controlled personally, and that I did not intend to maintain such files in the future would not be oppressive; although I did not wish it implied that I had had such files in the past.
3. That you will immediately withdraw from circulation and deliver up to our client, C/- Davies Ryan De Boos, all documents or things in your possession, custody or control or in the possession, custody or control of your servants or agents which amount to a reproduction or a substantial reproduction of the Copyright Works or any other works in which our client holds copyright.
- I stated that I considered this statement far overreaching anything reasonable. The term as stated covers every work of Scientology - including all legitimate copies. I said that I had many such works in my possession, all legitimate printed copies, and that this term would seem to require me to deliver my entire critical archive up to your clients. As I engage in a great deal of criticism of Scientology, with a view to discussion of Scientology as a matter of public concern, I found this condition unacceptable.
- I also pointed out that a great many works covered by this term are in fact mimeographed or photocopied single sheets, from course packs and so on, and I have a great many of these in my possession; and that these (legitimate) copies are in fact produced by each Scientology organisation in-house, and that there are even detailed procedures for doing so. You expressed surprise at this also. I pointed out that such a term would leave me in the position of having to prove that any such mimeographed sheets in my possession were produced legitimately (by a Scientology organisation), rather than copied by me, and that this would, obviously, be impossible to prove.
- I pointed out that this term would exclude me from showing any other person a legitimate copy of a work controlled by the Church of Scientology (RTC), and that under this term I could not privately lend such legitimate copies to anyone, and that I could not sell the book or piece of paper in question to someone else, even though the physical item was owned by me; whereas I presently had these rights.
- We could not come to a workable agreement or compromise on this demand at this time, and agreed to put it aside for later discussion. You said "I think I understand your position."
4. That within ten (10) days of the date of this letter you will confirm by statutory declaration to be provided to our client, C/- Davies Ryan De Boos at the address above that the demands made above have been complied with.
- I said that, being near-destitute, I did not as yet have a lawyer.
- I said that by Tuesday 13th May, I would get back to you with a statutory declaration, solicitor's letter or other response (which is this present letter). I emphasised again my willingness to discuss this entire matter.
- We agreed that, if there was relevant discussion before that date, you would contact me or I would contact you. I stated my phone number as 9xxx xxxx and my best e-mail address as firstname.lastname@example.org and that e-mail was presently the most reliable way to get in touch with me quickly; you confirmed your phone number as 9254 2888 and that e-mail to email@example.com had gotten through and would get through reliably, for quick communication.
- You said that you would consult with your clients, the Church of Scientology and RTC, concerning this phone call before that date.
It has also come to my attention that the Church of Scientology is distributing a leaflet, titled 'Public Warning', concerning myself. The leaflet in question is enclosed. I can establish that the leaflet has been distributed by staff of the Church of Scientology outside Queensland Institute of Technology in George Street, Brisbane on Wednesday 7th May (one of the two staff members on that occasion being Lyn Smith, Director of Special Affairs in Brisbane); at the corner of Flinders Lane and Swanston Walk in Melbourne on the evening of Friday 9th May (the enclosed leaflet was handed to me in the street by said staff member, who I then observed returning to the Church's Melbourne office); and on at least two occasions in the last few weeks outside the workplace of Stuart Riley (one of those named and pictured on the leaflet) in Brisbane. (I am presently seeking confirmation of exact times and dates of additional distribution of the leaflet by Scientology staff.) In addition, copies of the leaflet were left in my letterbox at home Monday 12th May; I am presently attempting to establish whether a substantial portion of the street or suburb was so leafleted, or just my own letterbox (and I would regard the latter as an attempt at intimidation).
Apart from their certainly being active distributing the leaflet, I believe the leaflet is published by the Church of Scientology. The Church of Scientology has been distributing a previous leaflet attributing itself to 'Victims of CultAware', consisting of a shorter form of an article from Freedom, a magazine published and distributed by the Church of Scientology; when Tony McClelland wrote to the Church of Scientology stating said previous leaflet's inaccuracy and asking for a retraction, staff member Vicki Hanna wrote back saying that the Church of Scientology believed the statements to be true and standing by them. The photos on the present leaflet of Rick Ross and Joseph Szimhart are identical to photos of them in Freedom; and the photos of myself, Tony McClelland and Stuart Riley were taken at a demonstration against Scientology in Sydney, at the corner of Castlereagh and York Streets on September 9th, 1996, by a Scientology staff member; fragments of picketing signs from the day can be seen in the photos of McClelland and Riley, and I was actually asked by the Scientology staff member taking photos to smile for the photo shown on the leaflet.
I consider this pamphlet is a serious libel as calculated to bring me into odium and contempt. I require an undertaking to cease distribution and recall and destroy the pamphlets, an undertaking not to publish similar material, an apology in a form to be settled, and compensation to include any costs and a mutually-agreed payment for the libel.
I request your early reply.
Attachment: the 'Public Warning' leaflet.