Fishman Affidavit

From Academic Kids

The Fishman Affidavit is a set of court documents submitted by ex-Scientologist Steven Fishman in 1994 containing criticisms of the Church of Scientology and, controversially, substantial portions of the Operating Thetan course materials.

Steven Fishman was brought before a United States court due to several crimes he had committed. He told the court that the crimes were performed on behalf of the Church. He also attested that he was assigned to murder Dr. Uwe Geertz and then commit suicide.

As evidence, Fishman submitted course materials he had purchased from the Church of Scientology. The Church charges its members an extremely high price for these materials, and considers them to be copyrighted and a trade secret. However, under United States law, court documents are considered public domain. They may be borrowed from the court library, or copied for a nominal fee.

Among other materials, the affidavit contains 61 pages of the allegedly trade-secret and copyrighted story of Xenu. Although the Church of Scientology attempted to prevent others from receiving the document by continuously borrowing it, a copy was eventually purchased, scanned, and posted on the Internet.

Ex-member Arnie Lerma posted the material on the Internet, as did scientology critic Karin Spaink.

The Church of Scientology responded by suing a number of people and their Internet service providers for copyright infringement. The defendants responded by challenging the church to prove it was actually the copyright holder of the disputed documents.

Since then, the Fishman Affidavit has been mirrored around the world.

In 2003, Karin Spaink won her legal case against the Church of Scientology in the Netherlands, in what many people claim to be a victory for free speech.

Numerous critics of the church have accused it of intentionally using aggressive lawsuits in these and other cases as SLAPP suits, intended to silence their opposition. See Scientology and the legal system.

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