All For NOTs

All For NOT: High-tech heretic Keith Henson lost his battle with Scientology, but the court accidentally published "trade secrets" now posted all over the Internet.

Tied Up in NOTs The Church[sic] of Scientology scored a major legal victory last week in San Jose's federal district court when a jury ordered Palo Alto computer consultant Keith Henson to pay $75,000 to the Scientology-aligned Religious Technology Center. The fine was punishment for Henson's posting to the Internet of internal Scientology document NOTs 34, which Henson claimed was essentially a manual for illegally practicing medicine without a license, using E-meters, auditing and other Scientology-oriented techniques. "The jury held that copyright laws are sacrosanct, even when they're being used to conceal criminal conduct," said Los Angeles attorney Graham Berry, who represented Henson and has often crossed swords with Scientology. "That's a disturbing decision, and one that lawyers for the mafia might want to take note of." . . . While unrepentant for his actions, Henson himself was predictably disappointed, though his marginal financial situation makes any significant recovery of damages unlikely. Still, that didn't stop Scientology representatives from expressing their elation with the verdict. "This award is a great victory for all copyright owners," said RTC president Warren McShane. "The copyright law has once again been upheld in the face of an assault by an outright copyright terrorist who thought he was above the law." . . . But RTC and Scientology's jubilation at their victory was likely short-lived. For immediately after the verdict was announced, the court released the complete transcript of the trial. In a major oversight by the court, the transcript included a sealed portion of the trial in which the document, its contents and alleged criminal components were discussed in great detail. The court immediately recalled the transcript, but too late: the very information that RTC had fought was immediately posted to multiple Web sites. "And once something's on the Net, there's no way to recall it or get it back," chuckles Henson, who views the publicity the trial received as some solace for his defeat. "That's worth an imaginary $75,000 to me." From the May 21-27, 1998 issue of Metro. Copyright (©) Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.