In late April 2020, Watch Tower, the governing organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses, filed a lawsuit against Truth & Transparency for copyright infringement. After securing legal counsel, we announced our intention to fight the suit on the basis of the First Amendment. It is with great difficulty that we announce that our fundraising efforts have come up short and we were forced to settle the suit.
As can be seen from publicly filed documentation with the court, the following were the basis of the settlement agreement in exchange for the case to be dropped:
- Truth & Transparency would remove all documents owned by Watch Tower from all our websites.
- Truth & Transparency, and it’s founders, Ryan McKnight and Ethan Gregory Dodge, will never again publish copyrighted material owned by Watch Tower.
- Truth & Transparency will pay Watch Tower a total of $15,000 in damages.
The result is absolutely agonizing and has been emotionally, mentally, and physically taxing on us, as it goes against our core values. Additionally, the irony that we have not been able to say anything publicly until now, causing tremendous frustration for our supporters, is not lost on us. We simply were not at liberty to do so while the settlement was being negotiated, which added to the stress and agony of the situation.
We deeply appreciate the generosity of our supporters who helped us raise over $13,000 to fight this legal battle. But, as stated in our original press release, we realistically could not fight this with anything short of $40,000. The result of not meeting this goal was that we had to engage in settlement negotiations with the extremely well-funded Watch Tower. The majority of the funds raised were used to pay our attorney for representation during the settlement process, thus far amounting to $10,000. These discussions can be lengthy and representation is not cheap.
To be clear, Truth & Transparency maintains that we did not violate any of Watch Tower’s copyright, however, without the funds to make our arguments in court, we had no choice but to settle.
Ethan Gregory Dodge
Co-founders Truth & Transparency
Update: The original press release did not state the exact amount paid for representation. It has been updated to reflect accordingly.