This series, which I hope will be ongoing, is intended to bring to light some of the more esoteric (and imo interesting) goings on in Scientology history. Some of these you may find pointless, some outrageous and some just bizarre – but hopefully interesting. Did you know where ‘safe harbour’ comes from? ‘Safe Harbour’ is the legal term given to internet-based services providers in cases of copyright infringement. The basic idea is that those internet-based service providers cannot be held legally liable for copyright violations committed by those using its service, provided that the internet-based service provider acts ‘expeditiously’ to remove copyrighted material when it is brought to their attention. The ‘Safe Harbour’ concept is part of the Digital Millennium, and is an integral part of online copyright law in the US. To illustrate the importance of this you need only look at YouTube, a company whose entire business model relies upon ‘Safe Harbour’ protections. Should a user of the YouTube website upload copyrighted material the copyright holder cannot sue YouTube provided YouTube removed the material in a reasonable timeframe when the infringement was brought to their attention. Indeed, the ‘Safe Harbour’ provision of US Copyright law was the reason the Viacom V YouTube lawsuit was dismissed (although it is currently being appealed). So…what does this have to do with Scientology?? Good question. Back in the early days of alt.region.scientology, critics of the organisation had a forum that could be used to disseminate Scientology material – including copyrighted material. Naturally the Scientology organisation tried to get the service shutdown, resulting in a lawsuit against the forum operator Netcom. The lawsuit (RTC v Netcom) was one of the first attempts to shut down a website or internet-based service using copyright law. Judge Whyte ruled that Netcom could not be held liable for copyright infringement committed by its users. This ruling is the basis for the ‘Safe Harbour’ concept that would later be codified into law as part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The excellent ‘SAFE HARBOURS UNDER THE DIGITAL MILLENIUM COPYRIGHT ACT’ by Mike Scott describes the influence of the RTC v Netcom case thusly: TL;DR: Scientology sued an internet company way back in the day which lead to the creation of the legal concept of ‘Safe Harbour’ which enables YouTube to survive and YouTube thanked Scientology by that whole Tom Cruise crazy video thing. No good deed goes unpunished.