Mormon Church Sues the Tanners

Jerald and Sandra Tanner have faithfully unmasked Mormon hypocrisy and corruption for more than 30 years. They are to be commended for their steadfast determination to release information which demonstrates the duplicity of Mormon leadership.

Recently they released a chapter from the secret handbook, "Church Handbook of Instructions." As described in the story reprint below, the Mormon Church has sued them. I am requesting that you pray that the Tanners will prevail in this lawsuit.

Web site prompts Mormon Church to sue critics

By Sheila McCain
Salt Lake Tribune
Idaho Statesman, Oct 16, 1999, 12A

The Mormon Church is suing two longtime critics, accusing them of violating copyright laws by posting information from an internal church handbook on the Internet.

Jerald and Sandra Tanner run Utah lighthouse ministry in Salt Lake City, a non-profit organization offering books, a newsletter and a Web site disputing Mormon teachings and practices.

Until this week, their Web site at included pages from "Church Handbook of Instructions: Book 1, Stake Presidencies and Bishoprics," a guidebook printed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1998 to assist its lay clergy.

On Wednesday, Intellectual Reserve Inc. (IRI) demanded the removal of the pages from the Internet and sued the Tanners in federal court. IRI, created in 1997, is the Utah corporation that owns the copyrights and other intellectual-property assets used by the church.

The handbook is protected by a registered copyright, and its distribution is limited to church officers, IRl said in its lawsuit. Officers who leave their positions must return their copy, the suit said.

The Tanners had posted a chapter outlining church discipline procedures and additional pages about requests to remove names from church membership rolls. Sandra Tanner said she posted the information as a public service for members and inactive Mormons interested in having their names removed.

"You can quit going, and never go for 30 years, and they still call you a member," she said. "The Mormon public has the right to know what the ground rules are. It's something l have received requests on for 40 years."

She said the handbook contents were provided to the Tanners anonymously this summer on a computer disk.

The Tanners removed the pages within hours of receiving a demand from IRI. However, IRI proceeded with the lawsuit because it also wants the Tanners to post a notice acknowledging they violated IRI copyrights and asking readers to destroy any portions they copied or downloaded, said IRI attorney Berne Broadbent.

"The core issue here is the infringement of the copyrights," Broadbent said.

IRI has asked U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell to issue a temporary restraining order requiring the Tanners to post the notice, delete the pages and refrain from future copyright violations. A hearing is scheduled Monday.

Attorney Brian Barnard, who represents the Tanners, will argue they have already removed the material and added the notice, via their posting of IRI's demand letter. But Broadbent said IRI believes readers will be more likely to respond to a notice from the Tanners themselves.

Sandra Tanner said she questions whether posting the pages violated copyright law. Under the Fair Use Doctrine, portions of a copyrighted work can be legally reproduced for criticism, news reporting, scholarship or other limited reasons.

Barnard said he is still researching whether the Tanners' postings maybe protected by the doctrine.