Although the tongue weighs very little, very few people are able to hold it. -Anonymous
Question #45251 posted on 05/26/2008 3:01 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Ok I know that the Inernet has a good side and a bad side, and that whenever the Lord gives us something for good, Satan twists it to use it also for his evil purposes..

Ok, now I know that the sacred ceremonies in the Temple are not legally published or distributed anywhere outside the Temple, and of course we refrain from using the wording that is used there, but why is it that the Church doesn't go after people who are posting the wording of the ceremonies online (I have stumbled across them by accident while looking for other things)? It would seem to me that the Church ought to have some legal protection in this area. Also, how in the world are people able to put the endowment on the internet considering that no published version exists except within the Temple itself?

Not to be vengeful, but I sure do hope those that are guilty get what's coming to them in the end

loves the temple

A: Dear reader,

Your instinct is correct; in the U.S., unpublished material is protected much in the same way as published works. There are a few procedural differences, but they aren't significant. Almost all other countries have similar provisions, thanks to the Berne Convention that internationally harmonized copyright law. So the reproductions of the temple ceremony scripts or performances are illegal because they violate the exclusive Section 106 rights of the copyright holder. (Here, presumably, the LDS Church or some subsidiary has the copyright.) And since the reproduction is wholesale, the work is unpublished, and the use is not transformative, the reproductions almost certainly fall outside the fair use exceptions.

I don't know of any incident in which the LDS Church has pursued a copyright lawsuit against infringers of its copyright in the works associated with the temple ceremony. No cases appeared in my search of all federal cases. While I can't speak for the LDS Church or its legal department, I can think of two major reasons why the Church would not chose to enforce its copyright through a federal lawsuit. The first is that it would simply draw more attention to the illegal reproduction. For example, the Church has sued various parties for illegally reproducing its Handbook of Instructions. This has drawn significant media attention, and the content has simply been copied and reproduced on other websites. The most recent episode with the website Wikileaks garnered national media coverage. The LDS Church likely does not want similar results with respect to the temple ceremony material. The second reason a federal copyright lawsuit would be self-defeating for the LDS Church's goals is the fact that the content would become part of the lawsuit, and therefore public record. Perhaps it could be placed under seal or redacted, but this result is also probably undesirable for the Church.

As for how these unauthorized reproductions occur, I can't say for certain. The scripts may have been stolen or copied without authorization. Alternatively, someone could record the performed ceremony with some sort of hidden sound or video equipment. People are resourceful, and as the music labels and movie studios have discovered, it only takes one copy in order for any information to become freely available on the Internet.