Religious Technology Center v. Netcom

Citation: 907 F. Supp. 1361
Opinion Date: November 21, 1995

Erlich was charged with copyright infringement when he posted online sacred writings of the Church of Scientology. In addition, the Church also sued Netcom On-Line Communication Services, Inc. (Netcom), the ISP for the Bulletin Board System (BBS) containing the alleged infringing postings, and Tom Klemesrud, the operator of the BBS which Erlich used to transmit his postings. In connection with the latter action, the U.S. District Court ruled that an Internet Service Provider (ISP) could be liable for contributory copyright infringement when a subscribing member directly infringes a copyright. In a related ruling (923 F. Supp. 1231), the District Court issued a preliminary injunction against Erlich restraining him from all unauthorized reproduction, transmission, and publication of any of the works of L. Ron Hubbard. In a subsequent ruling the Court granted in part plaintiffs’ motion to expand the preliminary injunction based on its copyright and trade secret claims but denied in part based upon the alleged bad faith of defendant. Plaintiffs’ renewed arguments that Erlich should not be entitled to “fair use” of their copyrighted documents because of his alleged “bad faith” was rejected by the Court.

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