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RTC v. Lerma

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Citation Edit

Religious Technology Center v. Lerma, 1996 WL 633131, 40 U.S.P.Q.2d (BNA) 1569 (E.D. Va. 1996).

Factual Background Edit

Lerma, a former Church of Scientology member, obtained an affidavit containing church ideology, and published it on the Internet through his ISP (Digital Gateway Systems). Portions of the affidavit where later published in the Washington Post.

Trial Court Proceedings Edit

The Religious Technology Center (RTC), an arm of the Church of Scientology, sued Lerma, the Post and certain reporters for copyright infringement. Lerma first argued that the disputed works were not copyrightable. The court rejected this argument. He next raised the fair use defense for his unauthorized use of the copyrighted works. After examining each of the four factors, the court concluded that Lerma's use could not be construed a fair use.

Finally, Lerma argued that the RTC misused its copyright. The court concluded that the RTC had not misused its copyright and Lerma's unauthorized use of the material was an infringing use. The RTC was awarded $2,500 in statutory damages.

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