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Google Airs Scientology Infringement Demand

Google has made public the letter it received from lawyers demanding removal of Scientology related content from its search engine, complete with a list of allegedly infringing URLs.

Google provided a copy of the letter from law firm Moxon & Kobrin to online rights watchdog Chilling Effects, a joint project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, and University of San Francisco law school clinics. The organization published the full text of the letter on its site, removing only the names of the letter's sender and recipient.

The letter provides explicit allegations of both copyright and trademark infringement on pages published on the site Operation Clambake (xenu.net), a well known and highly vocal critic of the church of Scientology.

Accompanying the letter is a chart setting forth each of the alleged infringements, including both a description and the URL of each page. For pages that Google has removed from its index, you can simply cut and paste the URL into your browser address window to access the page directly from the xenu.net web site.

Google search results also now provide a direct link to the takedown letter on the Chilling Effects web site in response to specific queries.

For example, this query:

scientology site:xenu.net

Returns about 1,250 results from pages that are still in the Google database. But the following message appears at the bottom of the result list:

"In response to a complaint we received under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we have removed 6 result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read the DMCA complaint for these removed results."

Links to Google's DMCA policy page, and to the text of the takedown letter are highlighted in this message (see below).

Google's policy is now to send copies of all notices of alleged infringement to third parties, such as ChillingEffects.org, that will make them available to the public, confirmed Google spokesperson David Krane.

Chris Sherman is associate editor of sister site Search Engine Watch.