Scientology Takes the Fight to eBay
February 20, 2008 1:29 PM
A picture of an e-Meter, which the Church of Scientology blocked the eBay sale of.
The Church of Scientology resorts to intellectual property clauses in eBay's terms of service to halt Scientology-related auctions
Recently the Church of Scientology ignited massive public outcry when it sued YouTube
to take down
embarassing footage of a
seemingly hysterical Tom Cruise talking about Scientology
In the wake of the takedown, the church inadvertently triggered hordes of anonymous dissenters. The group organized massive protests worldwide with supporters wearing masks, including Guy Fawkes masks (as popularized in the film
V Is For Vendetta
Protests were held on February 10th
, to commemorate the anniversary of Lisa McPherson's mysterious death in 1995, which some allege was the result of a carefully executed murder plot by the Church of Scientology. Scientology church officials denounced the group as
"pathetic" and "cyber-terrorists."
While the Church of Scientology continues in its fight against dissentious free speech by launching suits against news agencies and online sites, it has now found an attractive new target:
suppress the sale of Scientology-related merchandise
through the clever use of copyright litigation, trademark lawsuits and takedowns.
Current Scientologists are discouraged from communicating with former members. Former members
who have bought expensive Scientologist videos and books are unable to sell them back to the church or current members. Many have turned to the ubiquitous one stop shop to buy or sell anything: eBay.
Scientology officials caught onto this trend and launched a campaign of takedowns using eBay's
Verified Rights Owner (VeRO) system. The system allows companies and organizations to file that they are intellectual property rights owners. The groups can then request any items that are in violation of the property rights be taken down, request which eBay rapidly complies with. The Church of Scientology filed requests for anything bearing its symbols; including its literature and e-Meter devices.
An example auction and screenshot of the auction image
. The auction was promptly deleted by eBay and is listed as "invalid."
Copyright law does not make any provisions for the prohibition of sales of patented items, other than stipulations for counterfeit. e-Meters removed by eBay included valid serial numbers; signs of legitimate products. As a condition of eBay's VeRO program, petitioners must swear under the threat of perjury that they have "good faith belief" that a listing violates their intellectual property rights.
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