Mar 3, 2017

LDS Church goes after MormonLeaks, accuses website of 'copyright' violation

The Salt Lake Tribune
March 2, 2017

MormonLeaks » Online presentation examining issues that challenge church members’ faith is removed from site.

MormonLeaks went too far this time — at least the LDS Church says so.

The website — which has generated headlines by posting purloined papers on topics ranging from how much Mormon apostles are paid to rules for missionary phone calls home — recently circulated a PowerPoint presentation highlighting issues that could lead members away from the fold.

On Wednesday, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints threatened legal action against MormonLeaks, alleging that the site published copyright material. The PowerPoint was posted on, a YouTube-like hosting site for documents, but was removed after the church sent its letter.

Since its December launch, MormonLeaks has made available private LDS papers in a push for more LDS Church transparency, said founder Ryan Mc- Knight, a former Mormon who lives in Las Vegas.

Previous materials leaked through McKnight, including widely circulated videos of briefings given to LDS apostles, have proved to be credible.

Wednesday's letter from the LDS Church is the first threatening MormonLeaks with litigation, McKnight said Thursday, despite earlier posts that could be seen as more incendiary.

The PowerPoint surrounding "issues and ideas leading people away from the gospel," was taken down from, McKnight said. That was not his doing. He said he would have left it up.

The leaked presentation lists such things as "Ordain Women," "incredulity over church history," "pornography" and "lack of righteousness" as concerns that test Mormons' devotion.

The Utah-based faith had no comment regarding the material or the letter from Barry V. Taggart, manager of the church's intellectual property office.

In his letter, Taggart warns McKnight to "act expeditiously" to remove the item from the Internet.

"A copyrighted PowerPoint presentation being distributed through your website [at]," Taggart's letter said, "contains material not authorized by the intellectual property owner, its agents, or the law."

McKnight gained headlines in October, during the church's fall General Conference, when he facilitated the posting of 15 videos showing LDS apostles privately discussing topics ranging from gay rights to politics to piracy. He said he simply wanted to offer "a peek behind the curtain" of the faith's burgeoning bureaucracy.

Mormon officials did not dispute the veracity of the videos, and McKnight soon was inundated by insiders wanting to anonymously make private LDS information public.

"I receive a variety of documents from a variety of sources," he said Thursday. "We have leaked documents from multiple sources. Some leakers have given us more than one document."

McKnight said his goal is to make the church more transparent, particularly regarding its finances and corporate procedures because its members are financially supporting those activities.

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