The LDS Church has sent notice to the Wikimedia Foundation alleging a copyright infringement by its Web sites Wikinews and Wikileaks regarding posting of a virtual copy of the 1999 LDS Church Handbook of Instructions.
Church spokesman Scott Trotter said Wednesday the church's legal department recently sent the letter after learning the copyrighted handbook had been posted online, and a URL link to the book was used in a story about the documents published by Wikinews on April 19, which described the material in the handbook.
In a statement about the letter, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said, "The church's Handbook of Instructions is a reference guide to assist local church leaders in managing church affairs. There is nothing particularly newsworthy in the material. In fact, the church regularly quotes from the Handbook when giving policy positions to journalists."
The statement went on to say that "copyright infringement is a concern for many organizations. In this case we have simply notified a particular Web site that they have posted copyrighted material illegally and asked them to remove it."
The URL to the full-text document that was the subject of the letter, originally posted on Wikileaks.org, now takes users to a statement saying the copy of the handbook "has been removed from Scribd. This content was removed at the request of copyright agents B.S. Broadbent of the Intellectual Property Division of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
Excerpts highlighted by the Web site from the document include instructions to LDS leaders regarding "Persons Who Are Considering or Have Undergone a Transsexual Operation," "Surrogate Motherhood," "Surgical Sterilization," "Sperm Donation," "Hypnosis" and "Name Removal and Church Discipline."
The incident is reminiscent of a similar dispute the church had almost a decade ago with Jerald and Sandra Tanner, whose Utah Lighthouse Ministry was sued by the church in late 1999 after they posted 17 pages from a 1998 version of the handbook on the Internet.
The church first asked the Tanners to remove the material from their site, which they refused to do. The subsequent lawsuit said the Tanners posted almost word-for-word portions of the manual dealing with "Temples and Marriages," "Church Discipline," "Records and Reports" and "Readmission after Name Removal." After a legal fight, the Tanners removed the material from their Web site.