Vienne, you are correct in saying that the watchtower has rights (copyrights) and very often, is protected by that law. However, laws are not perfect and can, at times, cause victims due to by-product/side effects.
This is what’s happening with the Watchtower. Copyright laws were made to ensure that authors would benefit from their work and protect it against miss appropriation (people claiming the works of others as their own). Members of this group have absolutely no problem with this. We are only interested in the “Fair use” provision where law makers tried to preserve free speech. That is, content can be reproduced so long as it is for criticism or parody.
In our case, there is plenty of material that the JWs have produced over the years that they are ashamed of. For us, the very act of reproducing the content and presenting it to active members is a commentary in and of itself: Are you proud or even agree with what your religion has produced here?
We very well understand that the majority of JWs will ignore such works if additional comments are made by a third party. And yet, this is the type of thing that is needed to protect the critics against WT’s lawyers.
Probably the best example I can think of is watchtowerquotes.org, a site that died a long time ago. Back in the days, that site would present watchtower quotes, in their full context, without any commentary. As a JW, I couldn’t find anything wrong about it as there was no apostate comments to be found anywhere on the site. So, I read the quotes, which in turn, guided my studies about my own religion and helped me understand a great deal about it.
The watchtower, ashamed by the
content the site, sued the site owner for 100k and successfully shut it down.
To this day, I believe that the very selection of quotes in and of themselves could
have been considered a commentary, but who has the money to fight watchtower’s lawyers?
The point is that the watchtower had used
a legitimate law to shut down a critic that should have been protected by the
fair use provision of the very same law.