Utah Lighthouse Ministry and Jerald and Sandra Tanner entered into a settlement agreement subject to Court approval with Intellectual Reserve, Inc., the copyright owner for LDS Church publications as to a federal lawsuit alleging a copyright violation filed in October, 1999.
"We did not violate any copyright law," stated Sandra Tanner. "We have agreed to put this matter behind us. Our resources are better spent for their intended purpose: to examine the claims of the LDS Church and contrast those teachings with Christianity."
"We have and will continue to comply with copyright laws."
"The posting of the 17 pages from the Church Handbook of Instruction on our web site, www.utlm.org was protected by § 107 of the U.S. Copyright law, commonly known as the fair use doctrine. Section 107 allows excerpts from copyrighted materials to be published for educational purposes and criticism. That is exactly what we did. That is not a violation of copyright laws." "We did not sell the material and we made no profit from its posting. The LDS Church did not sell the material and lost no income because of our posting."
"Unlike other churches, the Mormon Church does not make their operating manual readily available to people. We provided the quotes from the Church Handbook due to the many inquiries we have received from people seeking information on how to terminate their LDS Church membership. People need to be informed that they do not have to be excommunicated, that they can write a letter to their bishop and resign."
Jerald Tanner commented, "We have entered into this settlement only to end unnecessary, prolonged and expensive litigation and not because we did anything wrong."
"Even before this lawsuit was filed Utah Lighthouse Ministry had removed the 17 pages from its web site. This was done while we researched the Tanners' legal position. The Church filed the lawsuit anyway asking for money damages and attorney fees," said Brian M. Barnard, attorney for Utah Lighthouse Ministry. "Neither IRI (Intellectual Reserve Inc.) nor the LDS Church receive any money damages, attorney fees or court costs in the settlement," he continued. "There is no admission, determination nor agreement that the Tanners did anything wrong," he said.
Barnard stated, "Having researched our legal rights, we are convinced that no violation of copyright law occurred. However, we wanted to end this litigation especially as it goes into uncharted internet law. Settlement of the case includes a withdrawal of the court's opinion as to the posting of internet addresses (URLs) which may contain copyrighted material. That opinion which affected the rights of people that use the internet had to be removed either by an appeal or by this agreement."
"The posting of URLs on our web site did not violate copyright law as it was protected by fair use and was no more than what a librarian does on a daily basis. The Salt Lake Tribune printed the URLs of web sites which contained the Church Handbook in their regular newspaper and on their electronic edition prior to our posting. No legal action was taken against the newspaper.
"Our position is that the trial court erred in issuing a restraining order. However, while concerned with internet law as it affects this new emerging medium of communication, Utah Lighthouse Ministry does not wish to expend vital resources to serve as a 'test case.' That is why we have agreed not to post URLs of sites that we know to contain material from the 1998 Church Handbook of Instruction."
Sandra Tanner stated, "Utah Lighthouse Ministry did not encourage nor otherwise assist the dissemination of material from the Church Handbook of Instructions on other sites on the World Wide Web. We believe these actions were the result of the LDS Church's attempt to keep this information secret from both the public and its own members. This secrecy was brought to people's attention by IRI's very public lawsuit against us and has only fueled interest in this 'secret' information on the Mormon Church's rules and procedures.
"In early 1999 we received a computer disk containing the entire 160 page 1998 version of the Church Handbook of Instruction, which was anonymously delivered to our office. Apparently that electronic version was not authorized by the LDS Church. As they have requested, we have destroyed our copy of the 1998 Church Handbook," she continued.
"This settlement by Utah Lighthouse Ministry is not an admission of wrongdoing or liability. This settlement is the means by which we can end this costly litigation and continue with our original goal and purpose: to provide critical research and information to the public on the LDS Church through our books, newsletters, and on our web site www.utlm.org."
Also see: Salt Lake Tribune Article: LDS Suit Nearing Settlement