The second wave of raids began on Saturday, August 12, 1995, and were
announced to the Net by a widely distributed emergency email message that a raid
was in progress at the Arlington, Virginia, home of Arnaldo Lerma, Usenet poster,
FACTnet director, and former Scientologist. The raiding party was said to consist of
ten people, among them two federal marshals, two computer technicians, one of
whom was former FBI agent James Settle, and several CoS
attorneys. One of the attorneys was Kobrin, by this time well-known to many on
alt.religion.scientology for her many email messages demanding that files allegedly
containing copyrighted material be deleted. Another was Earle C. Cooley, who is
also the chairman of the board of Boston University. They took Lerma's computer,
backups, disks, modem, and scanner. Like many of us, he keeps everything, both
business and personal, on his home computer. They promised he'd have them
back by Monday, but months later he was still waiting.
Two more raids followed on Wednesday, August 23, 1995. One was on
Wollersheim. The other targeted nearby Bob Penny, who because of his advanced
muscular dystrophy had been replaced on the board of FACTnet by Lerma at the
beginning of July. FACTnet was prepared: it had been expecting a raid since early
that spring, and had long ago told Internet users to download as much of its file
archives as possible. There are now FACTnet anti-Scientology kits on Web sites all
over the world. It would take a lot of international cooperation and a lot of police
power to get them all, and even then, some of those countries have not signed the
Berne copyright convention.
Like Erlich, Lerma, whose three-hour raid was videotaped by both sides, has been
described by the CoS as a "copyright terrorist." In the familiar pattern, his service
provider, Digital Gateway Systems, was included in the suit. He was defended by
ACLU attorney David Lane. In Lerma's case, the bone of contention was a set of
August 2, 1995, postings that contained the complete set of court documents from
the Los Angeles case Church of Scientology v. Fishman and Geertz. Copies of
these documents could be obtained from the court by anyone with $36.50 to spare
for the copying fees, but the key to their interest is that portions of the top-secret
"Operating Thetan" materials, usually only available to initiated Scientologists, were
read into the record. The CoS maintains the materials are still copyrighted, even if
they're in the public record; skeptics say there are no legal precedents to support
this. Either way, by now there are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of copies of
these documents around the world. Shortly after the raids, the judge granted a CoS
request to seal the records. Digital Gateway Systems eventually settled out of court
on undisclosed terms.
Lerma, however, lost in court in January 1996, when Virginia U.S. District Court
Judge Leonie M. Brinkema issued a summary judgment that Lerma had violated
the CoS's copyright. The CoS welcomed the ruling, but not the terms: Brinkema
awarded the CoS only $2,500 in costs, dismissing in December 1996 a motion by
the CoS demanding $500,000 in attorneys' fees. Earlier, in November 1995,
Brinkema had thrown out a third suit, brought by the CoS against the Washington
Post, which had quoted a few lines from the documents in its coverage of the story.
Wollersheim had better luck: in September 1995, Colorado Judge John L. Kane
ruled in FACTnet's favor.
Around the time of the FACTnet raids, rumors began to fly that there would soon be
another raid. The popularly predicted target was California-based critic and well-
known net.activist Grady Ward, who had already told the group his seventy-four-
year-old mother had been visited by a Scientology investigator, and who said
publicly the CoS would find nothing if it did show up. The masses on
alt.religion.scientology started a pool to guess how many people would hit Ward.
That spring, there were complaints about three users who posted large quantities--
ten to twelve per few minutes--of single-paragraph postings in a practice
eventually labeled "vertical spam." One of these users, Andrew Milne, who in an
email message described himself as a "Church staff member," defends this on the
grounds of stimulating discussion of specific points, but admits that after those
postings, "A lot of complaints were made to Delphi [his service provider] to try to
get my account canceled. In fact, it was suspended briefly but the suspension was
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