Church Of Scientology Settles Dispute With Internet Provider

SAN JOSE, Calif. - The Church of Scientology has settled a copyright dispute with an Internet provider that many in the computer industry worried would restrict freedom of expression in cyberspace.

The church and Netcom On-Line Communication Services, one of the nation's largest Internet-access providers, agreed not to discuss details of the out-of-court settlement. They did say, however, that the online service has posted a warning to its subscribers telling them not to use Netcom to "unlawfully distribute the intellectual property of others."

The dispute arose when a former Scientology minister who became a vocal church critic posted some of the church's writings on a private bulletin board. Netcom arranged for its subscribers to have access to that bulletin board. The Religious Technology Center, a wing of the church, claimed copyright infringement, saying many of its literary works are trade secrets.