Perturbations, pleasures and predicaments on the information superhighway: The controversial Church of Scientology is not making any new friends on the Internet. In recent weeks, attorneys for the church have threatened legal action against people who they say post church documents in the alt.religion.scientology discussion group.

Now the church wants to shut down the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup entirely, claiming its top-secret "scriptures" are being revealed, and its copyrights and trade secrets violated. "We are trying to deal with an anarchy created by some net users who callously trample on the intellectual property rights of organizations," Scientology attorney Helena Kobrin wrote in a letter that's been reposted in many newsgroups.

Them's fightin' words on the Net, whose partisans are nothing if not impassioned defenders of free speech. Internet users have begun a petition drive decrying the church's efforts as censorship. Defectors from Scientology say the copyright argument is a smoke screen, and that Scientology's leadership simply cannot tolerate an open forum for dissent. Last week, the Washington-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, the leading civil liberties organization for Net users, rallied to the defense of system administrators who've been caught in the middle. Scientology lawyers say defectors from the church are illegally distributing "advanced technology" course materials that usually cost devotees thousands of dollars to obtain. Those scriptures include Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's dogma that an intergalactic holocaust 75 million years ago touched off mankind's spiritual woes.

"Though we do not condone making copyrighted material available on any electronic network without the permission of the copyright holder, your specific legal threats are short-sighted, perceived to be mean-spirited, ineffective, and are on tenuous legal grounds," says the petition to the church from Internet activist Jon Noring -- noring@netcom.com. "It won't stop those who are determined to make available alleged copyrighted materials. . . . They will find other avenues on the electronic networks to do so."

-- Richard Leiby leiby@aol.com

GETTING THERE: To follow the debate, select newsgroup alt.religion.scientology or alt.clearing.technology. (See also alt.privacy.anon-server, alt.society.civil-liberty, misc.legal.computing -- among others.) More Postings From Kobe Last week, we printed the marvelously expressive postings of a Japanese contributor to the Birdchat newsgroup who has been feverishly reporting from Kobe on the earthquake's effects on flora and fauna. This just in:

Dear everyone,

Excuse my loose posting about the quake

In kobe,

I send you one glad News, It is as follows.

In Suma-aquarium , The people believed in Almost fishes was died.

But yesterday , it is turn out that Only TWO fry fish is living.

They are fry of piranha.

Aquarium stuffs are much gladed. Other people are too. Me too.

The two fry will be sign of Aquarium rebuilding. . . . People have been under so much stress and to feel irritated now.

Many children can not study.

And they losed many friends.

They are frightened about next big aftershok.Can not sleep.

In Akashi-city, Akashi astronomical observatory had many dameges.

It build on Japanese standerd time line (135E).It was the symbol of

Japanese Time.

At last ,the big crock on this astronomical observatory was stopped. . . . People are feeling irritate for any reporters and very angry.

Because many Japanese reporters have no-etiquettes when they report.

They ask to sufferer with abrupt "What are you feeling now?"

And they gaze at the sufferer with curiosity. please pray our restoration and the injured heart of children will be cured. Sincerely,

-- Hidenori Mitsui mitsui@st.rim.or.jp Found something intriguing,improbable, insane or especially useful on the Net? Tip Karen Marrero (marrerok@washpost.com) or Joel Garreau (garreau@well.com).