Long Island (New York’s) Newsday newspaper reports that the wackos at Scientology have tried to shut down a website called Scientomogy.com which mocks the cult’s name along with cult member and platinum wacko Tom Cruise. According to the story, the Scientologists also sent a letter to another critical site, Truth About Scientology.
The U.S. Courts have long been handmaidens at assisting cults such as Scientology and wacko religions such as Jews for Jesus use the law to silence criticism. The most notorious is the series of legal actions that enabled Scientology to take over — lock, stock, barrel and domain-name — the Cult Awareness Network, which overstepped the bounds of a deprogramming job on one of its zombies. But the lawyer-heavy group makes generous use of the IP laws in quashing dissent, notably by suing, or threatening to sue, anyone who prints more of their founder’s dissembling nonsense than copyright fair use permits. Scientology even got the IRS to back off and finally issue a tax exemption to the cult as a religion in a settlement many have found fishy and which is surrounded by mystery.
This foray into trademark, however, is evidently something new. It won’t be as easy — copyright has a sharper teeth than trademark, notably statutory damages and the notice-and-takedown provisions of the DMCA, which don’t apply to trademark infringement (real or imagined). So far the websites have been standing fast — but then again, so did the Cult Awareness center. Something to watch, and worry about.