TRUTH AND TRANSPARENCY FOUNDATION RECEIVES TAKE DOWN REQUESTS FROM WATCHTOWER
On the afternoon of Monday December 31, 2018, the Truth and Transparency Foundation (TTF) was
issued four separate takedown requests with a total of 63 documents. The request came from the
Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, more commonly known as “Watch Tower”, the
governing organization of the religious group known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is the TTF’s
third time receiving such a request, this being the first regarding a withdrawal of documents
not related to Mormonism.
All the documents included in the requests are currently hosted on the website of TTF project
FaithLeaks, which serves as a site to host confidential documents from religious institutions.
The entirety of the documents were published in late April or early May 2018, eight months before
Why the takedown request was not issued closer to the documents’ publication is unclear, but the
requests were delivered shortly after a profile of Jason Wynne, founder of the website
AvoidJW.org, was published in the Norwegian newspaper Fædrelandsvennen. AvoidJW once hosted
thousands of documents relating to Jehovah’s Witnesses. In early 2018, they were taken down and
are slowly being republished by the TTF on FaithLeaks. All 63 documents in question were once on
All but two of the documents are related to the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ annual regional convention.
Each year, religious leaders from Watch Tower tour different regions of the world to attend and
speak at conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses where members are instructed and educated. These
leaders include a group of eight men known as the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the high
est leaders of the institution.
Among the documents are the content and outlines of talks given in the 2016 and 2017 tours. The
TTF has also published content of the 2018 convention, but these were not included in the takedown request.
Salt Lake City based attorney Lincoln Hobbs penned the TTF’s most recent response to Watch Tower.
He claimed the documents are legally published under fair use for for “purposes such as
criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching . . . scholarship, or research,” quoting 17 U.S.
Code § 107.
After citing two court cases with similar situations, he argued the TTF’s strongest point in its
favor is that the documents’ publication was “indisputably noncommercial” and will not likely
“interfere with the market for Watch Tower’s materials to its followers.”