Bid to ban showing of Tom Cruise video fails

The Sun, UK/January 17, 2008

Desperate attempts by the Church of Scientology to ban the showing of a video of Tom Cruise raving about his faith have come to nothing.

Scientologists tried - and failed - to use copyright law to force video-sharing site YouTube to remove the material.

The video has now appeared on a variety of websites - including the Sun's.

For British-based news websites, use of the video is protected as fair dealing under copyright laws for reporting news and current affairs.

But the video was also available on YouTube today, despite reports that it had been taken down.

Mark Stephens, a media lawyer at London law firm Finers Stephens Innocent, said: "It really is futile to try and remove the Tom Cruise copyright infringement from the internet.

"The Scientologists, by taking action to enforce their copyrights, have made it a news story. The mistake was not to foresee that a news story has special protection in copyright law in reporting news and current events.

"Consequently, every news organisation on the planet has put the controversial video on their website - a real case of making a disaster out of a crisis."

The affair left Cruise, and the Church of Scientology, deeply embarrassed. One US-based website described the footage as a Scientology indoctrination video, and comments on others describe the star as a "freak".

During the video, which lasts about nine minutes, Cruise, speaking as the Mission Impossible theme plays in the background, says that he and fellow Scientologists are "the authorities of the mind", who are able to "rehabilitate criminals" and "bring peace and unite cultures".

He also says: "Being a scientologist, you look at someone, and you know absolutely that you can help them."

The case follows an incident in which the Church of Scientology responded to an investigation by the BBC Panorama programme by filming journalist John Sweeney when he lost his temper and screamed with rage - and putting the footage on YouTube.

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