LDS CHURCH v. JERALD & SANDRA TANNER
I.R.I. v. UTAH LIGHTHOUSE MINISTRY
Hearing Set for Tuesday, January 4, 2000 at 4:00 pm on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
before the Hon. Tena Campbell.
Utah Lighthouse Ministry, Jerald and Sandra Tanner have moved to dismiss the lawsuit
filed in October against them by the LDS Church for copyright infringement. The Church
claims that Tanners infringed the copyright on the 1998 Church Handbook of Instruction by
displaying ~17 pages from that book on their web site.
The Handbook is provided to LDS Bishops and Stake Presidents to guide them in
performing their duties. The Tanners displayed all of one chapter and small portions from
two other chapters for a total of ~17 pages from the ~160 page work. The posted
information set out how a person would request to have their name removed from the
membership rolls of the LDS Church and how a Bishop or Stake President would handle such a
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 Instruction and was copied into the 1998 Church Handbook of Instruction. 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.
"Until such time as the 1989 General Handbook is registered with the Copyright
Office, the Church can not sue the Tanners for displaying portions of the 1989 work on
their web site," states Brian M. Barnard, counsel for the Tanners. "The ~17
pages at issue are a re-write of what appeared in the 1989 version. Therefore, any
copyright protection must be based upon the original work, the 1989 version," said
Barnard. "Under copyright law, strict compliance with registration requirements is
required to bring a lawsuit for infringement. The LDS Church has not complied with the
registration requirements and the case must be dismissed," argues Barnard.