The justices let stand without comment the decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York that quotations from letters, diaries, and other documents in a critical biography of Church of Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard constituted copyright infringement. The appeals court refused to issue an order prohibiting distribution of the book, "Bare-Faced Messiah," but only because the church's publishing arm waited too long to file suit.
The biography by Russell Miller was based in part on unpublished letters, memoranda, applications and diaries by Hubbard, who died in 1986. Many of the documents were obtained from the federal government under the Freedom of Information Act. In all, Miller quoted 132 passages containing 3,200 unpublished words, and the trial court found that 41 passages, containing 1,100 words, constituted copyright infringement.
For example, according to the [Holt] brief, the book quotes Hubbard's application to the Veteran's Administration containing false claims for benefits; a letter to the FBI in which Hubbard denounces his wife as a spy; a letter in which Hubbard proposes converting Scientology into a "religion" for business reasons; and a letter in which Hubbard falsely tells his daughter that he is not her father.
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