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UTAH LIGHTHOUSE MINISTRY
Utah Lighthouse Ministry is a Christian non-profit organization providing humanitarian outreach to the Community, and printing critical research and documentation on the LDS
| The following is an account of the Mormon Church's lawsuit against Jerald and Sandra Tanner in 1999.
At approximately eleven in the morning, October 13, 1999, Sandra Tanner was working in the Utah Lighthouse Ministry Bookstore when she was surprised to encounter two well-dressed men who turned out to be representatives of the Mormon Church's law firm. They served legal papers on Utah Lighthouse Ministry and the Tanners, ordering us to immediately remove some material that was posted on our Ministry's web site [www.utlm.org]. The material in question was limited portions of the LDS Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 1 (1998). This handbook is the updated version of the instruction manual given to local bishops in the Mormon Church. Various editions have been published over the last 100 years. This manual contains, among other topics, instructions on excommunication and discipline procedures against erring members.
As a non-profit organization concerned with providing clear and accurate information to people desiring to terminate their LDS membership, we posted portions of the Handbook on our web site. These legal papers, served by Intellectual Reserve Inc., demanded that we immediately remove any material from the Church Handbook of Instructions from our web site and post their statement regarding the matter by 2 p.m. of the same day. Intellectual Reserve, with offices in the 28 story LDS Church Office Building in Salt Lake City, is the legal entity that holds the church's copyrights.
While we did not think that we had violated their copyright, by 1:00 p.m. we had removed the material and posted their letter to us, in the hope that it would avert a costly lawsuit. This did not satisfy the LDS Church. Later the same day they filed their copyright lawsuit against the Ministry in the U.S. District Court for District of Utah, Central Division, Case No. 2:99-CV-0808C. They made NO effort to discuss or negotiate the matter with our attorney or us prior to filing.
How We Got The Handbook
The Mormon Church is very careful to restrict access to the Handbook. It is given to bishops, stake presidents, and various church leaders. When someone leaves their position they are to give the manual to the next officer. When a new edition is printed the old edition is to be destroyed.
In the latter part of June, 1999, when Sandra went to get the mail out of the mailbox at the front of the store she found a computer disk with no explanation as to its origin. Later, she received a telephone call from an anonymous man. He asked her if she had received the disk he had left. When he was informed that we hadn't looked at it for fear that it might contain a computer virus he informed us that it contained the LDS Church Handbook.
After checking the disk for any viruses it was concluded that it was safe to examine the contents. Just as the man had said, it contained the 1998 Church Handbook of Instructions! Prior to this we had acquired earlier editions of the Handbook, but we did not have the 1998 edition.
Later we discovered that there were a large number of people involved in disseminating copies of the Handbook. The Mormon Church was desperately trying to stop this underground movement among its own people but found it almost impossible to detect who had copies of the files. Moreover, many people were distributing email copies to their friends. These copies could be instantly sent on the Internet throughout the world.
Our Web Site
On July 15, 1999, we posted on Utah Lighthouse's web site [www.utlm.org] a page called "How to Remove Your Name from the LDS Records." Included with this entry was most of chapter 10 from the Church Handbook of Instructions, along with a few quotes from two other chapters. This was done strictly as a public service to answer the many questions we receive on this issue. There was no charge for this information.
While copyright laws are somewhat complicated we felt that what we had posted from the Handbook was within the guidelines of fair use. On page 54 of the book, A Copyright Guide for Authors, Robert E. Lee wrote the following regarding fair use:
Early in the development of U.S. copyright law, it became apparent to legislators that there should not be strict enforcement in certain situations. If harm to the author was minimal and the violation was for legitimate purpose, non-infringement was frequently found by the courts. From this cradle of justice fair use was born. By the time the 1976 act was legislated, fair use had become so firmly entrenched that it was codified: "Notwithstanding the provision of Section 106, fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords for purposes such as criticism (including making multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship or research, is not an infringement of copyright."
The statute lists four factors that are to be considered in determining fair use: (1) the purpose and the character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purpose; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market of the copyrighted work.
Since we (1) are a non-profit organization, offering the material free as a public service, (2) the Handbook is a factual procedural manual, (3) only 17+ pages of the 160+ page book were posted on our site, and (4) the LDS Church does not sell the book, many people felt that we were within our rights. Clearly the LDS Church was not hurt financially by our posting of those few pages.
The Church is also maintaining that the Handbook is an unpublished work. Yet the copyright notice on the front does not identify it as such. To the contrary, the title page states that it is published by the LDS Church. Further, the work is distributed to over 55,000 people, who have been given the authority to copy portions and to give permission to others to copy portions as needed.
David and Goliath
While Utah Lighthouse Ministry has only five full-time employees and a limited budget, the Mormon Church has vast resources. For example, the book Mormon America: The Power and the Promise has a whole chapter on LDS finances and wealth. The authors report:
The estimated grand total of LDS assets, by a conservative reckoning, would be $25-30 billion. ...Yet another LDS trademark is the system of membership tithing that brings in what we project as offerings of $5.3 billion a year, though one knowledgeable source thinks $4.25 billion might be a safer estimate. Stocks and directly owned businesses produce perhaps $600 million more in cash income. The estimated yearly annual revenues total $5.9 billion, or by the more conservative reckoning, just under $5 billion. Per capita, no other religion comes close to such figures. (Mormon America: The Power and the Promise, by Richard and Joan Ostling, p. 115, Harper, 1999)
Further on, the Ostlings observe: "If the LDS Church were a U.S. corporation, by revenues it would rank number 243 on the Fortune 500 list." (Mormon America, p. 124)
From the information given above it is obvious that the Mormon Church has nearly unlimited resources to use in their legal battles while we have very limited assets.
In 1998 Utah Lighthouse Ministry received $207,936 from book sales and gifts. In 1999 this Ministry took in $252,893 from gifts and book purchases. The increase was mainly due to gifts for the lawsuit.
Many people who have heard of the lawsuit feel the church's real agenda was to shut down the Ministry.
Over the past forty years we have printed critical books regarding Mormonism, discussing many historical and doctrinal problems. We have also reprinted sensitive documents that the Mormon leaders were trying to keep from their own people. The current lawsuit seemed to be their hope to end our publishing career.
Many LDS have misunderstood the lawsuit and assumed it related to supposed lies in our material. One Mormon wrote:
This is just my personal opinion, but it's about time that the church files suit against defaming liars like yourselves. (Email November 5, 2000)
Ironically, we were sued for printing the truth, not lies. The lawsuit was not for printing "anti-Mormon" literature but for printing official LDS material not readily available to its members.
What the Church has failed to tell its members is that we were not the first ones to post portions of the Church Handbook of Instructions on the Internet. In fact, we have evidence indicating that the entire Handbook had been posted on the Internet by another individual as early as June of 1999.
On June 16, 1999, someone posted the following on an Internet Newsgroup: "It seems someone has scanned the CHI and posted it." The man who gave the information referred to himself as Tom. (CHI is an abbreviation for Church Handbook of Instructions.)
The important thing about this matter is that it proves someone else was responsible for the initial posting of the Handbook. In fact, the Ministry posting of the 17+ pages did not even take place until July 15, 1999. This would be about a month after Tom first reported that someone else had posted the entire Handbook of Instructions on the web.
Another posting from the newsgroup contained the following:
Late last year, the LDS (Mormon) Church published a new edition of the Church Handbook of Instructions, copyrighted by the mysterious "Intellectual Reserve." Almost immediately after the release of this new edition, an HTML version as well as a Folio database version was being passed around the Net to interested parties....
One posting we saw said the following:
The nature of the CHI on the web, is that someone posts the document to an anonymous web site somewhere, anonymously posts the URL to a public place, or notifies people by E-mail, and then sits back and waits for Intellectual Reserve to get the web site closed down... Just be patient, sooner or later, it will be posted again. The genie is out of the bottle so to speak.
Interestingly, David Gerard, who maintains a web site in Australia, seemed to have no fear about posting the Church Handbook on the web. Eventually however, the church confronted him. Gerard wrote the following about this matter:
The Church finally sent a lawyer's letter, on real paper and all. I'll put it up soon. In the meantime, I have duly removed the files containing the Church Handbook of Instructions...
As a reaction to the Church's attempts to suppress the book, several people whose websites I do not control have chosen to put the files up themselves. Some mirror sites are listed at the end of this page.
If the Mormon Church wishes to act like $cientologists-suing critics to try to shut them up-they'll be treated like $cientologists. This is not a threat of illegal action, but a prediction of how people are likely to react... Incidentally, I should state that I have no contact whatsoever with Jerald and Sandra Tanner. I received the files linked below from several different people from around the world... just by asking on the Net. The Church needs to realize that when you've distributed thousands upon thousands of copies of a work in paper form, trying to claim that it's a "secret" because it's "unpublished" relies on absolutely none of those people getting upset at you and having a Net connection... Please note that I have nothing in particular against Mormons or against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Nor do I necessarily agree or disagree with anything on the Tanners' web site.
Gerard later posted an interesting item regarding his encounter with the LDS Church's lawyers:
(The threats from Church lawyers keep on coming, though. The best was when they made a threat, then made a second threat to try to make me keep the first a secret. Look up John 3:20 and ask yourself why the Church is acting so afraid of the light. I haven't gotten around to putting up either letter, but am considering it.)
The reader will notice that Intellectual Reserve did not file a lawsuit against David Gerard! In fact, Gerard even admitted publicly that he had four different versions of the Handbook: the Handbook uncompressed, the Handbook compressed for Unix, the Handbook compressed for Windows, and a WinZip-compressed version of the Folio Infobase version of the Handbook. One would wonder why Intellectual Reserve behaved in the way that it did. Why sue us and yet permit a vast number of other people to continue to spread the Handbook around the world?
Intellectual Reserve obviously wanted to smear our reputation in every way possible. Their arguments presented to the court went so far as to charge that we were responsible for putting the entire Church Handbook of Instruction on the Internet. This slanderous charge is totally false. We had nothing to do with any posting of material, other than what appeared on our web site, from the Handbook nor did we encourage people to do so.
The University of Utah paper reported on the LDS lawsuit:
The...[Intellectual] Reserve Inc., the corporation that owns copyrights used by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has recently commenced a lawsuit against two individuals.
The goal of the lawsuit is to prevent these individuals from distributing excerpts from an unpublished church book dealing with the procedures for members removing their names from the LDS Church's membership rolls....
People who have participated in this letter-writing campaign [to get their LDS membership terminated] claim that their letters have resulted in harassing telephone calls from clergy and letters inviting them to participate in a church court concerning their membership status in the LDS Church.
This type of response to a letter from a member of a church asking to be removed from a church's membership rolls is clearly an unconstitutional attack on the freedom of religion rights of those who wrote the letters....
So why is the LDS Church, through its subsidiary corporation IRI, attempting to prevent the publication of information on how to leave the LDS Church? ...
A cynical answer would be that the LDS Church is attempting to hold on to all its members so that it can maintain the potential of collect tithing from them. ...
A better explanation for this lawsuit is that the LDS Church feels that the information in the book is secret information which can be used against them by outsiders. ...
The LDS Church should recognize that using the courts in this way will only make it look bad, and drop the case. (Daily Utah Chronicle, "LDS Church Should Set Members Free" by William Tibbits, October 21, 1999, p. 6)
The Temporary Restraining Order
The initial Temporary Restraining Order [TRO] issued on October 18, 1999, only required that the material from the LDS Church Handbook be kept off our web site until the case was resolved.
On Saturday, October 30, 1999 the Salt Lake Tribune ran an article on the lawsuit and listed the Internet addresses of sites that contained the Handbook. We were certainly not expecting this startling development. Prior to this, Church leaders apparently hoped to contain the spread of the Handbook. As it turned out, however, thousands of people downloaded the Handbook due to the information provided by the Tribune.
The next Tuesday, Nov. 2, 1999, we posted on our web site various emails we had received concerning the lawsuit. Two of these emails contained URL's, or web addresses, purporting to contain all or part of the Handbook. Note, these were never posted on our site as LINKS, they were simply web addresses.
However, on November 3, 1999 IRI complained to the court that we were somehow violating the TRO by listing the web addresses. After the November 10th hearing the judge expanded the TRO to include a restriction against posting web addresses containing material from the Handbook.
On December 6, 1999, the judge disregarded our arguments against the Temporary Restraining Order and issued a Preliminary Injunction, which greatly expanded the issues and charged us with Contributory Infringement. The Injunction was to stay in effect until the lawsuit was resolved.
The judge reasoned in the Preliminary Injunction that when a person merely went to one of the sites containing the Handbook they made an illegal copy, as the text would have been temporarily copied in their computer's RAM (memory). By our posting web addresses where such a person might be able to find the entire Handbook we were contributing to their copyright infringement.
Carl S. Kaplan of the New York Times, wrote:
In a ruling that could undermine the freedom to create links on the Web, a federal judge in Utah has temporarily barred two critics of the Mormon Church from posting on their Web site the Internet addresses of other sites featuring pirated copies of a Mormon text. In issuing a preliminary injunction on Monday, Judge Tena Campbell of the United States District Court in Salt Lake City said it was likely that the critics, Sandra and Jerald Tanner, had engaged in contributory copyright infringement when they posted the addresses of three Web sites that they knew, or should have known, contained the copies. The copyrighted material was the text of the Church Handbook of Instructions, ...
Lawyers for Intellectual Reserve Inc., a corporation that holds the intellectual property assets of the Mormon Church, praised Judge Campbell's decision. ... But other lawyers found the court's decision disturbing and if it stands, a possibly dangerous precedent that could inhibit one of the most fundamental features of the Web-the ability to direct viewers from one Web to another. Although the Tanner's case revolves around the posting of Internet addresses or URLs, and not actual linking, the copyright issues are similar, lawyers said. "That decision ultimately holds up, then linking is definitely dead," said Jeffery R. Kuester, a copyright lawyer who practices cyberspace law at Thomas, Kayden, Horstemeyer and Risley in Atlanta. "If you can't post an address without running into copyright infringement, how can you link?"
"The Web is all about links," Kuester said. "Without linking, there is no Web." (New York Times, Cyber Law Journal, "Copyright Decision Threatens Freedom to Link," Dec. 10, 1999)
The article went on to examine the judge's ruling:
In reaching her decision [for the Preliminary Injunction], Judge Campbell made two key conclusions. First, she reasoned that anyone who went to a Web site and viewed a pirated copy of the handbook was probably engaging in direct copyright infringement, because that viewer's browser automatically makes a local copy of the text. In addition, Judge Campbell reckoned that by posting the addresses to the pirate sites after they were ordered to take down the handbook, and by otherwise assisting people who wished to locate the pirate sites, the Tanners were liable under a theory of contributory copyright infringement. By their actions, the Tanners "actively encouraged" browsers to directly infringe the church's copyright, Judge Campbell wrote. What makes Campbell's 10-page opinion significant lawyers said, is that there are few other instances where a court has ruled on the practice of knowingly linking to or posting addresses for the sites with infringing material. ...
"I don't believe it is illegal to tell someone where to go to read the handbook," Tanner said. Broadbent, the lawyer for I[ntellectual] R[eserve] I[nc.], claimed the court's order was a straight forward application of the law of contributory infringement. "We regard what the Tanners did as an end-run around the initial order," he said. Broadbent added that IRI recently contacted the operators of Prestige Elite Communications in Australia, as well as half a dozen other sites which, he claimed, had posted portions of the handbook, requesting that they stop directly infringing church copyrights. He said that with one exception, all the sites IRI contacted have taken down the material. ..." (New York Times, Dec. 10, 1999)
The article also interviewed Jessica Litman, a law professor at Wayne State University:
Jessica Litman, ...an expert on intellectual property, said she believes the court was wrong to issue a preliminary injunction.
Pointing out that there can be no contributory infringement without direct infringement, she said it was clear to her that when members of the public used the addresses provided by the Tanners and visited a site to look at the handbook, any copies their browsers made were permissible and protected by the concept of fair use.
In any case, Litman asserted, the mere posting of a Web address could not amount to actively encouraging someone else's infringement. "If I give a footnote in a law review article for a plagiarized book, that seems to be just telling people where the book is, not materially facilitating infringement," she said. "This decision is like saying that providing footnotes to illegal material is illegal."... (New York Times, Dec. 10, 1999)
CNN.com also became interested in the trial. On December 14, 1999, Steven L. Lawson wrote the following:
A ruling this week by a federal court in Utah could represent a body blow to a key feature of the Web: linking users of one site to information on others. ... The [LDS] church maintained that posting violated its copyright on the book. Observers familiar with Internet law said the decision could be one signal of an increasingly closed Web of the future, far different from the freewheeling forum that users know today. ... Experts said the ruling in favor of the [LDS] church could hold back the use of one of the Web's greatest tools, the ability to direct users from one site to another, either with information or URLs or with actual links. ...
"This could have some far-reaching, chilling effects if people are worried about liability," said Robert Gorman, an associate with the law firm Fulbright and Jaworski LLP, in New York. Gorman said the ruling seems reasonable on its face,.... "Nevertheless, the Web is a unique medium where traditional copyright law is difficult to apply," he added. "Providing a link that takes a user to a Web site that may contain copyrighted material isn't the same thing as reproducing a copyrighted work," Gorman noted. ...
Thomas Lipscomb, a founder of the Institute for the Digital Future, condemned the ruling. "Although posting protected material would be a clear violation of copyright law, simply providing addresses or links is just free speech, not a crime itself," he said. (CNN.com, "Copyright ruling targets Web links," Dec. 14, 1999)
On Saturday, January 29, 2000 the LDS Church owned Deseret News incorrectly reported that we had "added links" to sites containing the Handbook to our web site:
The Tanners removed the manual from the Web site prior to the lawsuit being filed but then added links to other Internet sites where the material could be found, one of which posted the entire 160 pages of the manual. (Deseret News, January 29, 2000)
As noted earlier, we only posted an email letter (along with other emails we received about the case) containing the addresses of sites purporting to contain material from the Handbook. These were never "links." Interestingly enough, the Salt Lake Tribune had listed other sites containing the Handbook three days before the Ministry posted the email containing the same information. The Internet site for the New York Times article on Dec. 10, 1999, not only provided the Internet address where the Handbook could be found but also provided an actual link to the site. (Since that site has moved the link no longer works.)
Since the LDS Church had already stated to reporters that they would not sue the Salt Lake Tribune for printing and posting the URL's (addresses) of web sites containing the Handbook, they obviously were not as concerned about web addresses being contributory infringement as they were intent on damaging Utah Lighthouse Ministry and the Tanners. Also, we were informed that the entire Handbook continued to be offered at various sites on the Internet. This was all being done by other parties. We had no connection or control over any such actions.
As far as we are aware, the LDS Church, as of January 20, 2001, has NOT filed lawsuits against any of the people so involved.
Judge Tena Campbell had to admit that there was no conclusive evidence that we were involved in the current posting of the LDS Church Handbook of Instructions on the Internet. She wrote the following in the Preliminary Injunction:
The evidence now before the court indicates that there is no direct relationship between the defendants and the people who operate the three websites. The defendants did not provide the website operators with the plaintiff's copyrighted material, nor are the defendants receiving any kind of compensation from them. The only connection between the defendants and those who operate the three websites appears to be the information defendants have posted on their website concerning the infringing sites. Based on this scant evidence, the court concludes that plaintiff has not shown that defendants contributed to the infringing action of those who operate the infringing websites. (Preliminary Injunction, December 6, 1999)
Unfortunately for us, however, Judge Tena Campbell felt we were possibly contributing to copyright infringement by helping others go to such web sites. Because of the judge's extreme ruling in the Preliminary Injunction, we found it necessary to file an appeal with the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. This was done on December 24, 1999.
The Salt Lake Tribune printed the following:
Long-time LDS Church critics Jerald and Sandra Tanner are appealing an order by U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell which forbids them from posting on their Web site outside Internet addresses that tell readers where online copies of The Church Handbook of Instructions can be found... The Tanners disagreed with Campbell's ruling which found they could be contributing to someone else infringing on the church's copyright if they reveal where the book may be read online. (Salt Lake Tribune, "Critics File Appeal," December 30, 1999)
Motion To Dismiss
At the beginning of January we filed a motion to dismiss the case with Judge Campbell. Our position was that the LDS Church had not filed a proper copyright on the Handbook and thus the case should be dismissed. In our January 2, 2000 News Release we stated:
The Church has registered its copyright in the 1998 Handbook with the Copyright Office, a pre-requisite to bringing a lawsuit. The Tanners have moved to dismiss the suit because ~73% of what was displayed on their web site came almost verbatim from the 1989 General Handbook of Instructions and was copied into the 1998 Church Handbook of Instructions. The 1989 General handbook has not been registered with the Copyright Office. Because any infringement by Tanners was of the 1989 General Handbook, the lack of a registration of that work means that the Church can not sue... Under copyright law, strict compliance with registration requirements is required to bring a lawsuit for infringement. The LDS Church has not complied with the requirements and the case must be dismissed. (Press Release, January 2, 2000)
The judge disregarded our arguments on the validity of the copyright filings, and refused our motion for dismissal.
Court Makes Photos Of Chapter 10
Interestingly, the Federal Court records of our case contain multiple copies of the disputed pages from the Church Handbook of Instructions from both the 1989 and the 1998 editions.
Since the LDS Church was claiming "irreparable harm" from our posting of the 17+ pages of their Handbook on the Internet, one would think that the church would have requested the judge to seal the exhibits in the case. This, however, was not done. On October 23, 1999, a man wrote to Judge Campbell, telling her that he was able to go to the Federal Court House at 4th South and Main, in Salt Lake City, and simply purchase the offending pages of the Handbook from the court filing. Several other people have informed us that they also purchased copies at the courthouse.
It is ironic that the LDS Church's lawsuit to suppress access to the Handbook actually resulted in placing chapter 10 in a public government record where anyone can purchase a copy.
With the failure of our Motion to Dismiss we were back to the issue of our appeal on the Preliminary Injunction. The Federal 10th Circuit Court of Appeals requires the parties involved in a lawsuit to work with a court mediator to see if a solution can be reached before setting a court date. We entered into negotiations with the 10th Circuit Court Mediator and the LDS lawyers in February of 2000 and finally reached an agreement on November 30, 2000.
The Salt Lake City Weekly reported:
As longtime critics of the LDS church, Jerald and Sandra Tanner never intended on setting legal precedent regarding the use of Internet links to copyrighted material. Given enough financial resources, they very well could have. Now, pending an imminent settlement agreement with the church, it looks like that precedent will have to be forged by someone else....
Last week's settlement between the Tanners and the LDS church...put the issue to rest under certain conditions. For the Tanners, that means destroying any and all copies they have of what's formerly called the 'Church Handbook of Instructions' a heavily guarded, copyrighted manual for clergy only.
So far so good. For the Tanners and their attorney, Brian Barnard, the most important agreement from the opposing side was the withdrawal of the court's original opinion restricting the posting of Internet addresses....
For Barnard, withdrawal of that opinion was crucial. Still, he admits that the Tanners' preference for settlement constitutes a lost opportunity to possibly set legal precedent.... But as so often happens in legal cases, money is power. The Tanners simply didn't have the time and resources to settle the issue in such a definitive way....
Outside of Utah, however, there are plenty of people who wish the case had gone all the way, settling once and for all the question of whether or not providing Internet links to copyrighted material amounts to contributory copyright infringement.
"I'm sorry to hear that they settled, but I'm not surprised," said Robin Gross, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit civil liberties group for Internet concerns. "In this case, I believe the Tanners were completely in the right. A link is simply a reference that points someone in the direction of where they can find information. But the trend we're seeing now is that large corporations, like the LDS church, are using the club of litigation as a way of controlling speech. Copyright litigation is becoming one of the most effective ways of silencing critics." . . .
The Tanners, meanwhile say they're set to get on with their publishing ministry. Sandra Tanner can't let go of the feeling that the church singled them out for legal action, especially when others freely posted and published links to the church handbook. An Australian still has addresses to the book posted on his website, and it's easily found through a simple web search. Religious issues aside, she too frames the whole affair as one of free speech. "The church's own publicity on this case brought about what they did not want. Thousands of people sought out copies of that book after they heard about the lawsuit." ... (Salt Lake City Weekly, "The Tanners' Uneasy Settlement" by Ben Fulton, Dec. 7, 2000)
One suspects that the LDS Church realized that with the upcoming 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City it was a bad time to be getting negative publicity and agreed to settle the lawsuit to get it out of the news. Otherwise, the appeal on the Preliminary Injunction would have probably been going on in the court at the same time as the 2002 Olympics, generating unwanted attention to the LDS Church's secret Handbook and disciplinary procedures.
In agreeing to settle the lawsuit we did not pay any money to the LDS Church nor did we admit to any wrong doing. We simply agreed not to quote more than 50 words from any one chapter of the Handbook in any one article. We also agreed to destroy all versions of the Handbook in our possession. While we believe this was an unreasonable demand from the Church, we agreed to destroy all the copies we had. Since various libraries have multiple versions of the Handbook available, it was not critical that we retain copies.
The LDS Church agreed to our demand that the Preliminary Injunction be dissolved so that it would not affect future Internet cases.
Another point of irony is that the Church's lawsuit increased public curiosity about the Handbook, which led to many people downloading copies from the Internet. Also the international attention given the lawsuit helped quadruple the number of people coming to our web site.
While the lawsuit is over, many questions still remain:
Archived on the Mormon Curtain with permission from Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 11 Nov 2005.
- Since the Handbook is still being disseminated on the Internet, why has no one else been sued?
- Why is the Church Handbook kept from its members?
- Why are members unable to see the rules and regulations that govern them?
- Why is the process to terminate LDS Church membership so complicated?
- Why can't people simply notify the LDS Church that they have quit? Why isn't that enough?
| Jerald D. Tanner 06/01/38 ~ 10/01/06 Jerald D. Tanner, age 68, died peacefully on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2006, due to complications associated with Alzheimer's disease. He was born June 1, 1938, in Provo, Utah, to George and Helen Tanner. He married Sandra McGee on June 14, 1959, in Mission Hills, California. He graduated from West High School, attended the University of Utah and graduated from Salt Lake Trade Technical Institute in 1959. After a few years as a machinist Jerald launched his own business, Modern Microfilm Co. and began publishing historical research. He closed his business in 1983 and established the non-profit organization Utah Lighthouse Ministry, which continues to publish his research. He authored more than forty books, including "Mormonism-Shadow or Reality?", and in 1980 his book "The Changing World of Mormonism" was published by Moody Press. For many years Jerald served on the board of the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake, volunteered in the office and held prayer time with the men throughout the week. He also served as an Elder and was on the Governing Board for Discovery Christian Community. He was a quiet man who loved to pray and memorize scriptures. He also enjoyed walks, hikes, Jazz games, animals, and an occasional practical joke, especially if it was his idea. We will all miss his keen mind, sense of humor and gentle teasing. Jerald's commitment to Christ was an inspiration to many people. Jerald was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Ruth Mellor. He is survived by his wife, Sandra; three children, April (Brian) Muegge, Dennis (Sherri) Tanner, Teresa (Chuck) Vanderpool; five grandchildren, Nathan, Samuel, Vanessa, William and Brandi; two sisters, Irene (Carl) Bonner and Evelyn (Chris) Miller; plus numerous nieces, nephews and his special friends and co-workers, Wendell, Marlene, Mark and Tony. During Jerald's long illness, he was lovingly cared for by his wife of 47 years until the final four days of his life. The family wishes to thank all those at CareSource Hospice facility for their compassion and support. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2006, at 10:30 a.m. at the Salt Lake Christian Center, 4300 South 700 East, Murray, Utah. The family will receive visitors from 9:30 to 10:15 a.m. prior to the service. In lieu of flowers the family suggests that donations be made in Jerald's memory to the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake or CareSource Hospice. |
| Or at least that is how Lance Starr (Confidential Informant) puts it over at MAD.
FAIR contended that the domain names were registered and the parody site was created without its knowledge by Allen Wyatt
Wow, did FAIR really make such a ridiculous claim? I don't believe this for a second. The talking heads at FAIR are a really tight group and Allen Wyatt is just as much a part of FAIR as its President Scott Gordon. I find it virtually impossible to believe Allen had been pulling this stunt without at least nudging elbows and giggling about it with the rest of the pack.
In his ruling, Kimball rejected the claim that FAIR was cybersquatting, the practice of registering domain names to profit from the goodwill associated with someone else's trademark or to extort payment by selling the name to the owner of the trademark.
Well, if making money off of it was the only way they'd be breaking the law, then I agree. I doubt FAIR was making any money from it. But then, that was never the intention. It is absurd to say FAIR didn't "profit" from this in some sense, since its sole purpose is to dissuade people from the arguments of the anti-Mormons, and since they are tripping over themselves, losing the battle, they have to stoop lower and try to make sure people never read the anti-Mormon arguments to begin with. Only a "Kimball" judge could be blind to this obvious fact.
Nor was any of this intended as a mere "parody." You do not put that much time and effort into a parody unless you want to advertise it and reap from the benefits in a laugh. He didn't advertise it to any of his friends at FAIR, so he says. Nor do you put that much time and effort and money into purchasing thirteen domain names for the sake of a giggle. One domain name would have served that purpose. It is perfectly clear to anyone who knows Allen and the entire FAIR lot that the intention was to cause confusion and hopefully divert a would be LDS fence-straddler from the Tanner's website. Sometimes it just takes a click of the finger guided by a temporary sense of curiosity and a Mormon is trapped in that world of information they would otherwise know nothing about. Of the millions of visitors to the Tanner's website there are probably hundreds of curious Mormons. Of those hundreds perhaps dozens would have become inactive or leave the faith due to the information presented by the Tanners. The Tannersboast far more converts from their efforts than FAIR ever will.
So Mormons are all in support of open inquiry and they do not feel information can do damage? Yeah, right.
Apparently Allen feels that everything the Tanners post online is "deception and lies" and regular Mormon folks need him to save… er… um, "steer" them away because they are too stupid to think critically for themselves.
And then there is the spiritual factor. In Mormon thought one hits a wall of evil spirits just by reading material critical of the "one true Church." Allen felt he was doing a religious service for the world wide web.
Incidentally, they are crowing and howling over at FAIR about how they defeated the Tanners. Yea, milk it for all it is worth. Victories over the evil anti-Mormons are very hard to come by, so I can see why they are trying to over celebrate this relatively pointless event. Juliann just called nana "unbelievably stupid" for saying both boards should just go back to business as usual and drop the subject.
You have obviously never been sued. That is a unbelievably stupid thing to say. It has nothing to do with what anyone believes...this was a misuse of the legal system and one of the most emotionally destructive things you can be involved in. There was zero chance FAIR would have lost and I'm sure she only went after Allen to get to her real target, FAIR. If Allen had lost it would have been because he broke a law, dear, not because he was persecuted or "right in his beliefs".
Juliann seems to have missed the point of the entire spectacle, and wishes to play the victim card. Cry us a river Juliann. The legal matter draws attention to FAIR's dishonesty. I doubt the Tanner's really expected to win anything. Several people grilled Allen Wyatt on the FAIR boards a few years ago when this first happened. And I was not the only Mormon to do so. Ultimately it would have been in FAIR's best interest to have kept this out of the media spotlight, but I am sure there are many Mormons whose moral compasses are functional, who can see how dishonest Wyatt was. There were at least three or four who was criticizing him on FAIR's own message forum. How many SLT readers will feel the same?
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