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Thursday, 25 April, 2002, 02:47 GMT 03:47 UK
Scientology Church fights Google
Google website
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By BBC News Online's Kevin Anderson
in Washington

The Church of Scientology has taken its long-running battle against the distribution of its material on internet sites - especially sites critical of the church - to Google, one of the most popular search sites on the internet.

Google catalogues more than two billion pages on the internet, but cyber civil libertarians cried foul when the site removed links to a website called Operation Clambake, due to a legal challenge from the Church of Scientology.

The Operation Clambake site portrays the church as a money-hungry cult.

The church, citing a controversial US law, said the site illegally displayed copyrighted church materials.

The church's complaint is based on the United States digital millennium copyright act which was meant to update copyright protections for the digital age.

Google fights back

Critics of the act say that it has gutted fair use provisions of copyright law and has curtailed the free flow of information.

While Google complied with the church's request, it also quietly began to defend its freedom to link.

Now, the church's tactics might have backfired, because when the search site receives a request to remove a link, it also forwards a copy of the legal request to a civil liberties site called

Google still links to Operation Clambake's homepage and Google's search results are based in part on links to a site.

Due to the media attention brought by the case more sites now link to Operation Clambake and a search for information on Scientology now brings up the site second only to the church's official homepage.

See also:

23 Feb 02 | Europe
Scientologists face Paris ban
24 Jun 01 | Business
Google mulls float plans
06 Aug 01 | Business
Google profitable, new chief says
13 Mar 02 | Sci/Tech
Google hit by link bombers
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