NEED HELP! WTS accusing of copyright infringement

by Jourles 72 Replies latest jw friends

  • Jourles

    I just got this email this evening from the CTO of my hosting provider:

    I am writing you in regards to your site We have been forwarded a copy of a complaint that was sent to our upstream provider regarding your site and the content which is posted on your site. It would seem that you are posting copyrighted sections and images which are legal property of Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York Inc. Please remove these offending letters and images which are being claimed are used without permission, or provide us a statement which allows you to publish/reproduce this content on your website. Failure to provide this will result in the suspension and/or termination of your website.

    This is what I wrote back to him:

    Could I please have a copy of this complaint that shows which "letters and images" are in question? As far as I know, the letters which I have on are not copyrighted and do not say on them that they are copyrighted or are listed as "Confidential and Proprietary." There are no images that I am aware of which are owned and/or copyrighted by the WTBTS on How long would I have to remove these items if they are indeed copyrighted works? I would very much like to research this issue diligently before removing these alledged copyrighted items. I also ask that you please keep my personal name private and concealed from the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. My current standing within this organization would be severely strained up to and including my excommunication which would lead to losing my friends and family. I'm not sure if you are aware of the tactics used by the WTBTS, but if you were to watch some of the videos on, you will see that the WTBTS even goes to the extreme by excommunicating ones who go to the police to report child abuse within the organization(whistleblowers). I hope you can understand the seriousness of my anonymity in this situation. Thank you for bringing this to my attention, XXXXXX
    Does anyone have any copyright experience in this matter, or know anyone that does? I am sure the WTS is referring to the BOE letters. Would simply having the WT logo on the letters be infringing? How could these letters be copyrighted? I need to research this quick before I get shutdown. But, is getting moved as I write this to a new server with a higher bandwidth allocation(remember those bandwidth exceeded messages recently?). I made the changes this morning so it appears that my current webhost will not have to do anything afterall since I will be cancelling in a couple days once the domain name propagation gets around.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated. [email protected] or IM
    I'm really suprised that it has taken this long for them to make a move...
  • drwtsn32

    Wow.. I hope this turns out ok for you. Your site rocks! I'm sorry I can't give you any advice... but I'm not a lawyer.

    (I'm thinking I should use wget to mirror your site before it goes away... )

  • jst2laws

    Well Jourles,

    Although you have solved your problem for now, I suspect they have at least one assistant in legal watching your site. So I hope you get some help here.

    I really like your site. Yours and Quotes are special because you make no comments, just present the evidence. While there are a lot of good sites with commentary we need those like yours that the inquiring JW can peak at and then try to figure out who to be mad at.

    Hope you get some advise on this.


  • Jourles

    OK, I have been looking a few things up and here is what I think I can do....

    I believe that the WTS is pressing the copyright issue due to the WT logo being on the letters. But what if I was to blacken-out the logo and leave the text? Would it not be the same as an internal memo leaking from a company and getting into the hands of the media? This site is actually dedicated to corporate letters and memos --- How is the WTS any different from other corporations with their "internal memos" to elders? Are not those letters just that? Internal memos?

    I'm still banging away with this. There is a LOT of copyright info out there to consume. But I think I'm on the right track.

  • Lady Lee
    Lady Lee


    They don't need to say they have copyrighted the materials for us to know they wrote them. Their logo is on it most of the time. And since they wrote them they are the owers of the materials and therefore own the copyright. No notice is needed.

    Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work........Copyright is secured automatically when the work is created, and a work is "created" when it is fixed in a copy or phonorecord for the first time.........
    The use of a copyright notice is no longer required under U. S. law, although it is often beneficial.

    Under "fair use" laws you could use excerpts legally. "Fair use" laws do not define how much of a piece of work can be used but we know it doesn't include the entire piece of work or even half of it.

    Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered “fair,” such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:

    1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

    2. the nature of the copyrighted work;

    3. 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 for or value of the copyrighted work.

    The distinction between “fair use” and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.

    By posting their materials whether they have a copyright notice on it or not IS an infringment of copyright laws so don't be surprised if they come after you.

    I note that you offer no critique of the materials but under "fair use" you might have a better chance of using excerpts if you did offer an opinion.

    They can't get you on making money for the work or that what you have posted deprives them of the financial benefits of the work but they can get you on the "fair use" laws.

  • Swan

    I believe the burden of proof is upon the Watchtower. There is no copyright notice on the letters is there? If not, then they are just trying to throw their weight around. Perhaps an attorney dealing in copyright law would be a wise course of action. Your email warning them about your privacy was very good.


  • Lady Lee
    Lady Lee

    Tammy legally they don't need the copyright notice on it. Their name is on it - top and bottom. The law says that is enough proof they own it.

    Jourles I doubt they are pushing this because they have their logo on it. They most likely are pushing it because you have private documents on display that only elders are supposed to see. You are exposing them to the world and to any JW who happens to find your site and sees some of the double standard that exists in the org.

    As much as I think this stuff needs to be exposed you are taking a risk by posting their legally copyrighted material. They don't seem to get so riled up when people are posting excerpts of their literature that they sell. But the Flock book (a secret book for elders only) got Kent into a lot of trouble with them.

    Even these things - they might not bother you if you used excerpts but you have entire letters there. And legally they have every right to complain just as anyone else would.

    Now your question might be...

    How much do I want to lose?

    cuz Jourles unless you got bundles of money to fight these guys and lots of time to run to courts I would suggest you remove them.

    You might want to contact Kent and see how he fought them and what happened?

  • Swan
    The use of a copyright notice is no longer required under U. S. law, although it is often beneficial.

    I didn't know that. How does that still apply with the law that correspondence becomes the property of a recipient? Does anyone know?

    For being "Proclaimers of Truth" they sure have a lot of secrets, don't they?


  • smack

    American copyright law........ host the site offshore, easy as

  • badolputtytat

    Love your site... factual.. not some "hate monger" site... I would think that in the manner that they distribute their publications to the public, that this falls under the same status as any other "public figure" that you might quote. Also I notice that you are not "selling" anything. OR claiming to author this material... How is that copywrite infringement? You supplied valid credit as to where the info came from, rather than taking credit for it.

    Seems to me they would have to take a stand as a Corporation... rather than a religion... in order to prosecute this matter.

    But either way.... you did a good thing... they are obviously scared of it or they wouldn't even bother.



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