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Google Makes Scientology Infringement Demand Public

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Google has made public the letter it received from lawyers demanding removal of Scientology related content from its search engine, complete with a list of allegedly infringing URLs.

Google provided a copy of the letter from law firm Moxon & Kobrin to online rights watchdog Chilling Effects, a joint project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, and University of San Francisco law school clinics. The organization published the full text of the letter on its site, removing only the names of the letter's sender and recipient.

The letter provides explicit allegations of both copyright and trademark infringement on pages published on the site Operation Clambake (xenu.net), a well known and highly vocal critic of the church of Scientology.

Accompanying the letter is a chart setting forth each of the alleged infringements, including both a description and the URL of each page. For pages that Google has removed from its index, you can simply cut and paste the URL into your browser address window to access the page directly from the xenu.net web site.

Google search results also now provide a direct link to the takedown letter on the Chilling Effects web site in response to specific queries.

For example, this query:

scientology site:xenu.net

Returns about 1,250 results from pages that are still in the Google database. But the following message appears at the bottom of the result list:

"In response to a complaint we received under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we have removed 6 result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read the DMCA complaint for these removed results."

Links to Google's DMCA policy page, and to the text of the takedown letter are highlighted in this message (see below).

Google's policy is now to send copies of all notices of alleged infringement to third parties, such as ChillingEffects.org, that will make them available to the public, confirmed Google spokesperson David Krane.

Google Asked to Delist Scientology Critics
http://www.chillingeffects.org/dmca512/notice.cgi?NoticeID=232

The text of the letter sent to Google by the law firm Moxon & Kobrin, with a chart identifying the specific pages the firm alleges infringe its client's copyrights and trademarks.

Google's Digital Millennium Copyright Act Policy
http://www.google.com/dmca.html

Google's policy on the DMCA, with instructions for sending them both an infringement notification and a counter notification.

Chilling Effects Clearinghouse
http://www.chillingeffects.org/index.cgi

A joint project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, and University of San Francisco law school clinics. Chilling Effects aims to help you understand the protections that the First Amendment and intellectual property laws give to your online activities. Chilling Effects encourages respect for intellectual property law, while frowning on its misuse to "chill" legitimate activity.

Google Embroiled In Scientology Debate
The Search Engine Report, April 2, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/02/04-dmca.html

Google found itself accused of censorship last month, after it removed some pages from an anti-Scientology web site in response to a legal request made by the Church of Scientology. Danny Sullivan takes a look at how the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act was involved and its implications for web searching.

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