Roger M. Milgrim: from legal scholar to Scientology stooge

In August, 1996, Scientology cult attorney Roger M. Milgrim, a partner at Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker and author of Milgrim on Trade Secrets, wrote me a letter concerning the NOTs Scholars Home Page at, which I posted without comment. Now it's time to comment.

>                             Law Offices of
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> Writer's Direct Access                                    Our File No.
> (212) 318-6016                                            24437.01100 
>                            August 22, 1996

I'm an expensive Park Avenue, New York lawyer...


and this is an urgent matter (or maybe I own stock in FedEx.)

> David S. Touretzky, Ph.D
> Computer Science Department
> Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition
> Carnegie Mellon University
> 5000 Forbes Avenue
> Pittsburgh, PA  15213
>      Re:  The NOTs Scholars Home Page

> Dear Mr. Touretzky:

Even though you're a PhD, I'm going to call you "Mr.".  Why?  I don't know.

>           I write to you on behalf of Religious Technology Center
> ("RTC").  This firm is representing RTC in its actions against Dennis
> Erlich, Keith Henson, Arnaldo Lerma and Grady Ward, cases pending in
> U.S. federal courts before either Judges Whyte (N.D. Cal.) or Brinkema
> (Lerma, E.D.  Va.).  I believe you are familiar with these cases.

I believe you are familiar with my client's predilection for suing people.

>           RTC is the licensee of the copyrights and owner of other
> intellectual property of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the
> Scientology religion, in the confidential, unpublished Scientology
> scriptures known as the "Advanced Technology."

As you can see, I am well versed in RTC's legal boilerplate.

> RTC's copyright claims
> have led Judges Brinkema and Whyte to rule that each of the
> above-listed defendant's Internet postings violated RTC's copyrights.
> Such conduct has been enjoined.

Some people we sued have been told by Judge Whyte not to break the law.
Contrary to what I told you, Whyte has not actually ruled yet in any of the
listed cases, but I'm hoping you won't notice that.

> Judge Whyte also denied Netcom's
> request to have RTC's copyright claims against it, as an Internet
> access "provider," dismissed.

You're supposed to think this means we won something.  Of course, all the
judge said was that the matter would have to go trial.  It's hardly a
victory for Scientology, but my mad dog client has to take what they can

> Subsequently, RTC and Netcom settled
> their dispute; Netcom has considerably tightened its rules to avoid
> lending provider auspices to infringers and misappropriators.

My client wasn't willing to risk a trial, so they settled with NETCOM, in
return for which NETCOM adopted a new and improved policy that is hardly
different from its old policy; it still wouldn't apply in the Erlich case.
But my client declared victory and went home.

>          Although Judge Brinkema denied RTC's motion for a
> preliminary injunction on trade secret grounds, reasoning that
> Internet posting of certain, defined issues had ended their trade
> secret status, that ruling did not involve any of the NOTs issues
> which you are now threatening to acquire or post.  

Yes, we're still trying to play out the doomed "trade secrets" gambit.  And
notice how I casually slip in the false claim at the end about your
"threatening" to post the NOTs?  I know it's bullshit, and you know it's
bullshit, but if I decide to show this letter to a judge, he won't know it's
bullshit.  Maybe he'll give me an injunction against you, if you're dumb
enough to reply to my letter in a combative tone.  It's worth a shot.

> Moreover, Judge
> Whyte (in Erlich) has, as of now, declined to rule that the trade
> secrets in various NOTs issues were impaired as a result of Internet
> postings and has undertaken further hearings on this very point.  Even
> more recently, Judge Whyte declined to modify the trade secret
> injunctions against Ward and Henson, based on the latters' claim that
> the Internet posting of these issues vitiated their trade secret
> status.  Judge Whyte indicated that he would soon be ruling on the
> impact of Internet postings on the trade secret status of these works.
> That ruling has not yet been issued.

So our trade secret claims have not yet been officially dismissed.  Not that
this has anything to do with you, Dave; we just thought you'd like to know.
We're hoping you won't notice that you live in Pennsylvania, not California,
and trade secret law is entirely different in your state.  It is impossible
for you to "misappropriate" a trade secret by reading a Usenet posting.  We
have no trade secrets case against you, unfortunately.  And that's why I'm
forced to write such a lame letter.

>           We write to you because of your recent opening of a Web-site
> at Carnegie Mellon soliciting RTC's NOTs materials and expressing the
> seeming intention to post them.

More bullshit about your "seeming intent" to post NOTs.  If this ever
gets to court, we want the judge to think we had a legitimate reason for
hassling you.  So we made one up and hassled you in self defense.  Okay?

> Your past history, as the first
> person to post the so-called Fishman declaration to a Web-site (like
> conduct has been unequivocally determined to be a copyright violation,
> as to which the poster and a provider on notice would have liability),
> gave impetus to others to make echo postings that, at the very least,
> infringe RTC's copyrights.

You've been a bad boy, Dave.  And you've set a bad example for all the other
kids.  Whatever they do now, it's on your head.

>           RTC is confident that you are aware that RTC objects to any
> infringement of its copyright in this material and that the genesis of
> unpublished materials outside any Church of Scientology is notorious
> thefts in Denmark and England, to which an article on your Web page
> refers.

Yes: I, noted intellectual property attorney Roger M. Milgrim, really did
read your web page.  I get paid by the hour, so why not?  Notice I haven't
said you've infringed anything.  I'm just saying my clients object to
infringement in general.  Also, they're really mad at those English guys who
made fools of them in Denmark.  We just wanted you to know that.

>           RTC does not desire to engage in litigation with you.

We put this in so we can't be accused of harassing you.  But just the word
"litigation" is enough to make some people wet their pants.  Still dry?
We're not done with you yet.

>  Nor does it wish to impinge on your legitimate First Amendment rights.

Once again, I, Roger M. Milgrim, am covering my learned ass.  I don't want
to be charged with harassment of critics like those other loser CoS
attorneys.  I have a reputation to uphold.  So let me first pay homage to
free speech and the First Amendment before attempting to scare you out of
exercising those rights.

>  It does, however, insist that you respect its intellectual property
> rights.

"Respect" their rights, got it?  No snickering.  We mean it.

>  Toward that end, on its behalf we request that you now:

Notice how I used the word "request", where Helena Kobrin would have said
"demand"?  I don't want any trouble with the bar association.  If you comply
with these ridiculous "requests", you do so voluntarily.  You can't argue
that I intimidated you into compliance.  You could have declined our
"requests".  But hopefully you'll be too scared to say no.

>           1.  Cease soliciting copies of the NOTs materials and
> retract your solicitations (as to which there are two judicial
> actions, both of which enjoined individuals from soliciting or
> acquiring NOTs materials).

Of course these judicial actions I'm citing don't apply to you, but we're
hoping you feel intimidated just the same.  And if we're lucky, we'll be
able to con some judge into issuing a similar restraining order against you.
The first step is to paint you as a dangerous bad guy, which is what this
letter attempts to do.

>           2.  Turn over to this firm for safekeeping any and all
> copies of NOTs or portions of it that you have or control.

Yeah, hand over all your stuff.  We want your car keys too.

>           3.  Make no disclosure, in whole or in part, of the NOTs
> materials in any media.

Stop talking about our trade secret sacred scripture.  You're hurting sales.

>           4.  Remove the summaries of the NOTs works from your Web
> page and turn over to this firm for safekeeping all copies of those
> summaries that you have or control.

We really don't like those summaries, so why don't you let us hold them for
you?  Remember, this is just a request, so don't go crying about your rights
being violated.

>           5.  Cease posting, or accepting for posting on your Web
> page, any further materials that reproduce, in whole or in part, any
> of the contents of the NOTs materials.

"Fair use" quotation?  We've never heard of it.  We don't want anyone
talking about our secret scripture.  Not one word.  Got it?

>           This letter is not intended as a complete statement of facts
> or RTC's claims of rights.

Maybe we have some more legal tricks up our sleeve.  Keep sweating.

> It is intended to assure that in
> exercising your legitimate First Amendment rights you do not further
> infringe upon RTC's intellectual property.

We haven't shown any infringement in the first place, so how can you
"further" infringe?  Watch this trick... You put the Fishman Declaration up
on a web page a year ago, and that was an infringement, right?  So by citing
that incident in an earlier paragraph of this letter, we can now
legitimately talk about "further" infringement without having to falsely
claim to have found infringements on the NOTs Scholars Page.  A careless
reader will still interpret this as implying the NOTs Scholars page
infringes RTC's rights.  That's what we're hoping you'll think, without our
having to make the claim in writing.  Clever, huh?  This is why I make the
big bucks.

>                              Very truly yours,

Bite me.

>                              [signed]

>                              Roger M. Milgrim

> RMM/ia

> cc:  General Counsel,
>      Carnegie Mellon University

We're going to try to get you in trouble with your employer while we're at
it.  And I get to bill CoS for a second letter.  We're bad guys.  Are you
scared yet? 

Sorry, Roger. Not yet. -- DST

My reply to Mr. Milgrim

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