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Cult demands removal of material from site

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  • Anton Hein
    *** The following message was posted to the AR-talk mailing list, and is posted here as an FYI regarding one cult s behavior. Note that this particular cult
    Message 1 of 1 , May 22, 2003
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      *** The following message was posted to the AR-talk mailing list,
      and is posted here as an FYI regarding one cult's behavior. Note
      that this particular cult was defended by cult apologist J. Gordon
      Melton. See this article for an analysis of his involvement:

      When Talk Isn't Cheap and Speech Isn't Free: The Abuse of Libel Law

      This message deals with the so-called 'Local Church,' a movement
      which theologically is a cult of Christianity.

      Research resources on the Local Church:

      What is a cult of Christianity?

      This morning (it's 4:30 AM here), I received an email from two
      people claiming to represent the Local Church.

      Since the email was sent from an aol.com address, I have no way of
      checking the message's authenticity. Nevertheless, the message may -
      if and when it proves to be authentic - be of some interest to
      those who study this particular cult of Christianity.

      :===Begin Quote===
      To: ahein@...
      Subject: Resending: Copyrights of the Church in Fullerton
      From: DJSady@...
      Date: Thu, 22 May 2003 21:03:35 EDT

      May 20, 2003

      Dear Mr. Hein:

      As evidenced on your websites (www.gospelcom.net/apologeticsindex
      http://www.xs4all.nl/~ahein/jim_moran_local_church.html), it appears
      that you know:

      1. The Church in Fullerton Corporation has acquired exclusive
      ownership to the copyrights, trade names, and trademarks of any and
      all of Mr. Jim Moran's websites, articles, publications, postings,
      correspondence and other work product and materials whether
      authored, assembled, created, or collected by Mr. Moran (hereinafter
      referred to as "the Works"), by lawfully purchasing those rights
      through the executor of Mr. Moran's estate; and
      2. As the owners and lawful successors in interest to the Works,
      any and all licenses and permissions for use of the Works previously
      given to download, copy, distribute or disseminate the Works have
      been revoked by the Church in Fullerton; and
      3. Despite such knowledge you have violated our exclusive right to
      distribution as the lawful copyright owner by utilizing your current
      websites to enable others to download a copy of the Works without
      the express written permission of The Church in Fullerton.

      You yourself acknowledge the value of copyrights to material you
      written, assembled, etc. On your webpage
      www.gospelcom.net/apologeticsindex/howtolink.html, you require
      others to honor those legal rights. In fact, you demand that others
      honor the "look, 'feel' and original content of" your website and,
      among other things, that they should not use that material except
      with your
      "express, written (on paper) permission". Yet, you have violated
      your own stated principles and ethics, as well as established law,
      by doing the very thing that you forbid others from doing.

      In light of these facts, we ask that you immediately:

      1. Remove any and all of the Works from your Netherlands' based
      (http://www.xs4all.nl/~ahein/jim_moran_local_church.html) from which
      you are distributing the Works.
      2. Remove your incitements to violate our copyrights and your link
      from your USA-based Apologetics Index website
      (www.gospelcom.net/apologeticsindex) to your Netherlands-based
      website where you also incite others to download the Works;
      3. Cease from any and all further violations of our copyrights.

      We will look for your immediate compliance with these requests, and
      hope that no further action on our part will be required. We also
      ask, if you desire to use any part of the letter to you in any email
      or webpage posting or other communication to others, that you
      present the entire letter without any deletions or other changes.


      Dan Sady and Dan Towle
      for The Church in Fullerton
      :===End Quote===

      The fact that this message was "resend" to me (see Subject header)
      indicates that someone interested in this issue is an AR-talk
      subscriber. Hence the following:

      Dear Folks,

      1) The Apologetics Index website clearly states that any and all
      legal communications must be made via snailmail:

      :===Begin Quote===
      Legal communications are accepted via registered snailmail (regular
      mail) only. Harassment, intimidation, and threats of legal action
      (real, veiled, or perceived) will be made public, and will be used
      as evidence in any subsequent court case.
      :===End Quote===

      An email, especially one sent from an AOL account, doesn't carry
      much weight. After all, we do not know whether or not it is
      authentic. And even messages sent from official domain names may
      have forged headers.

      Note that that one of my spam filters, Mailwasher, uses a filter
      rules set that treats mail from so-called 'throwaway accounts' such
      as yahoo, hotmail, and aol, as 'suspicious origin':

      :===Begin Quote===
      [enabled],"[3] Suspicious Origin (F,H,R)","[3] Suspicious Origin
      :===End Quote===

      The above (incomplete) line shows that such mail is automatically
      flagged for addition to the blacklist, delete - which is what
      happened to your(?) first mail - and bounce-back to sender (an
      option which I have removed).

      Aside from ourselves, the legal folks over here would also
      appreciate something more official. And if you do your homework
      regarding XS4ALL, you'll understand that they are very much
      interested in attempts to suppress free speech (or, as the case may
      be, attempts to silence critics).

      2) The Local Church entry on our US-based site does not incite
      anyone to violate your copyrights:

      It simply describes what happened, and points to information
      available to interested researchers - information that until
      recently was publicly available, and of which Jim Moran himself has
      stated the following:

      :===Begin Quote===
      Jim Moran's material may be freely shared with others, provided that
      it is done strictly for educational purposes and that it is not
      altered in any way.
      - http://www.xs4all.nl/~ahein/jim_moran_local_church.html
      :===End Quote===

      Indeed, Jim's writings are available elsewhere on the internet as
      well. And why should they not be? If, as the Local Church claims,
      his materials contains "factual misrepresentations, innuendo and
      false impressions," wouldn't be easier to try and address those
      issues head on, rather than try and hide legitimate criticism of
      your movement?

      In addition, Jim's site included material that you could not
      possibly have purchased the copyrights to. For example,
      correspondence from third parties, or articles such as this one
      regarding earlier Local Church legal wranglings (and cult apologist
      J. Gordon Melton's enthousiastic participation): "When Talk Isn't
      Cheap and Speech Isn't Free: The Abuse of Libel Law"

      So you've got to be specific. What material, specifically, do you
      wish to censor?

      Furthermore, *if* (and that is a big IF) we'd ever consent to remove
      the material in question offline, we will certainly make use of
      Jim's material under the Fair Use clause of various copyright
      conventions. That is, we'll quote from it - of course mentioning
      the fact that the Local Church itself has seen fit to try and censor
      the information.

      Indeed, we plan to greatly expand the Apologetics Index entry on the
      Local Church, and invite qualified researchers to submit articles
      for publication (yep, on a Netherlands-based website).

      3) Your partial citing of the copyright information on our "how to
      link" page is interesting. Did you miss the part about fair use
      quotations? Also, we're very generous in providing permissions to
      those who ask. After all, we've got nothing to hide. How about the
      Local Church?

      4) Before we do anything, we will run your suggestions by
      Gospelcom's legal department, will talk with the folks at XS4ALL,
      and will have a chat with our own legal advisors.

      Meanwhile, if you indeed represent the Local Church we'll look
      forward to your snailmail communication - on printed letterhead,
      please. (Note that we'll be on vacation soon, so our response may
      be delayed by a week or two).


      ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com
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