NXIVM (pronounced Nexium, like “the purple pill“) lost again in court this week in its legal effort to remove critical reports about its programs from the Ross Institute (RI) database.

The group alleges “copyright” violations and sought an injunction to delete from the Internet the critical analyses written by noted mental health professionals Dr. Paul Martin and John Hochman, MD.

NXIVM sells “Executive Success Programs” concocted by Keith Raniere its self-proclaimed “Vanguard.”

NXIVM, which has been called a “cult,” claims that the doctor’s reports violate its copyright because they quoted the group’s manual.

However, a district court in Albany rejected Raniere’s request for a preliminary injunction so his lawyers appealed.

This week The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York City handed down their decision (NXIVM Corp v. The Ross Institute — Docket No. 03-7952).

“We agree with the district court that the website’s use of quotation from the manual to support their critical analyses of the seminars…[was used] for the purpose of ‘criticism, comment scholarship, or research,'” wrote the court.

The Second Circuit also noted that NXIVM’s claim that the doctors had unlawfully copied “the heart of their ‘services” within the reports was meaningless, because “such services…are not copyrightable expression.”

The appellate court decision also agreed with the lower court that “in order to do the research and analysis necessary to support their critical commentary, it was reasonably necessary for defendants to quote liberally from NXIVM’s manual.”

This decision further defines copyright law and goes some distance in precluding spurious copyright claims made by “cults” as a means of silencing their critics.

The court said that use of a group’s material “might well harm, or even destroy, the market for the original,” but that this “is of no concern to us so long as the harm stems from the force of the criticism offered.”

Regarding NXIVM’s trademark claim, the court stated that it is “without merit.”

The Second Circuit also offered this withering assessment of NXIVM’s lawsuit; “Plaintiffs are not likely to succeed.”

Judge Dennis Jacobs summed up the situation succinctly, “Ross and his co-defendants quoted from NXIVM’s manual to show that it is the pretentious nonsense of a cult…Certainly, no critic should need an author’s permission to make such criticism…”

A motion to dismiss the lawsuit entirely is currently pending before an Albany Federal Judge.


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