Scientology orders shut down of alternative news web site. Web hosting company complies without warning.
The web site now simply displays ‘This web site is temporarily unavailable, although the Web server is functioning normally’.
Speaking via telephone last night ‘RINF’ founder, Mr Mick Meaney said “It’s still not completely clear what has happened but one thing is perfectly clear – the closure of the site is solely motivated by Scientology.
“At present the ISP has locked me out of the web site, my email accounts and the site databases. They are giving me very little information and will not deal with the issue until Tuesday. They expect me to remove some Scientology related content if I wish to remain on their web severs and avoid legal action,” he said.
“I am currently talking to an alternative ISP because ‘RINF’ is an open publishing site and I refuse to dictate what visitors can and cannot publish in this way.”
With an average of 200,000 hits each day, it is one of the world’s largest independent news web sites although less than 10% of those visitors live in the UK where the site is located. “The vast majority of surfers come from the United States. The shut down order came from a solicitor in New York so I can assume it’s the American branch of the Church that’s willing to take legal action against the site,” said Mr Meaney.
The 'alternative news' site is not alone in the battle against Scientology and this is not the first time Scientologists have used their influence to censor the Internet. Slashdot.org and Google.com are among a series of web sites issued with DMCA’s to remove Scientology related content from their sites.
For past Scientology censorship see:
This time however, ‘RINF.com’ was shut down without warning.
“In recent weeks a large number of Scientologists have emailed me and posted comments on the site demanding I alter some of the material because it encourages people to take peaceful action against the Church and presents it in a negative light,” said Mr Meaney. “These bully boy tactics will not work and I will absolutely continue highlighting the crimes of Scientology.”
Web host ‘Zen’ declined to talk about the suspension with non account holders. Mr Meaney claims that ‘RINF’ will be back online within the week.
1) an anti-Scientology opponent (this person has a long history of picketing the cult, has been under cult harassment, etc.) published a paper on his/her own personal website under a Creative Commons license that is not very restrictive.
2) rinf.com scraped the paper, changed the title and removed the author's name, in contravention of the Creative Commons license.
3) the anti-Scientology opponent e-mailed the owner of rinf.com and asked him to remove the paper or honor the terms of the Creative Commons license. This would have required the owner of rinf.com to retitle the paper and correctly attribute it to the original writer.
4) rinf.com fails to answer.
5) the anti-Scientology opponent then contacted rinf.com's upstream provider zen.co.uk and asked it to ask its client to either remove the paper or honor the terms of the Creative Commons license.
6) zen.co.uk's response was that the Creative Commons license didn't apply since the anti-Scientology opponent has an RSS feed on her/his website. (among other things).
7) the anti-Scientology opponent replied and laid out legal arguments asserting moral ownership over his/her paper and again reiterated that all s/he wanted was (a) either the paper come off rinf.com entirely or that (b) rinf.com honor the terms of the Creative Commons license and title the paper correctly and attribute it to its writer. rinf.com is copied on all this correspondence between the anti-Scientology opponent and zen.co.uk.
8) what probably happened next is that zen.co.uk told rinf.com to do something about the problem.
9) rinf.com apparently decided it didn't have to do anything about its problem.
10) zen.co.uk removed the site.
The problem is totally that of rinf.com. The owner of the site, Mick Meaney, had no problem scraping (stealing) a paper that did not belong to him, posting it on his site, and after repeated requests to either (a) remove the paper or (b) honor the terms of the Creative Commons license and correctly title the paper and give the writer his due credit.
Meaney is merely an opportunist here, trying to make himself out to be a victim when in point of fact he had been given ways to rectify the problem, but he refused to do so. Meaney can correct his problem by properly attributing from where he is getting his content, but he'd prefer to merely take (steal) and hope that nobody complains. That's pretty rotten, taking someone's hard work and making it your own, particularly when complying with the terms of the Creative Commons license would have been so very simple.
rinf.com and Mick Meaney--not the victims here.
Unless there's some other content that RINF.com published that related to Scientology and was complained about by Scientology, the removal is likely due to my complaint, and I've been a critic of Scientology for more than a decade. I do think that Zen.co.uk reacted rather harshly, as I only requested that they remove the article or comply with my Creative Commons license. From my perusal of RINF.com, they regularly scrape articles from RSS feeds and republish them as their own, re-titling them and removing attribution to the original author. Regardless of where your opinion falls on online copyright issues--and mine is quite liberal, else I'd not publish content under a Creative Commons license--this is a despicable practice.