A federal judge has issued an order barring The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from using author Rodello Hunter literary works, something the church says it hasn't done in more than 20 years.
Hunter filed a copyright infringement suit in January 1997, alleging violations of an agreement granting the LDS Church temporary permission for a limited number of performances of a play based on her novel, "A House of Many Rooms."According to her suit, the church also published 20,000 pamphlets containing unauthorized excerpts of her work without crediting her.
At a hearing Tuesday afternoon, church lawyers argued there was no evidence that the church had published pamphlets containing excerpts of Hunter's book since the expiration of the agreement or otherwise violated the agreement.
But Hunter said on the witness stand that she had learned of a performance of the play by a Relief Society in La Crescenta, Calif., as recently as 1996. She also testified that the church is continuing to circulate the pamphlets containing the unauthorized excerpts from her book.
After listening to the arguments, U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell said she would sign an injunction barring the church from making copies, reprinting or performing excerpts from Hunter's novel pending resolution of the lawsuit.
In a statement issued following the hearing, the church indicated it would have no problem complying with the order.
"Actually, Ms. Hunter's earlier permission to use excerpts from her work for church units to perform in a reader's theater activity was terminated in the mid-1970s," said spokesman Don LeFevre. "Since then, the church has never officially sanctioned the reprinting or performance of Ms. Hunter's work in any form."
He added, "We are convinced that after further proceedings on these issues, the court will recognize that the church has been in full compliance with governing law."