Quoting Church Leaders

This does not apply to most LDS fiction writers, but non-fiction writers–HEADS UP!

The Church is tightening up their copyright permission policies. Actually, they’re not really changing their policies, rather, they’re tightening up enforcement of the policies that have been in existence for years. The number of books and other products that are using copyrighted, intellectual property without permission is off the charts. It’s been a long time coming, but I personally think it’s an appropriate step for the Church to take–even if it makes my job a little harder.

Each project requesting permission to use copyrighted materials will be evaluated on its own terms, but here are a few general tips.

  • Fair use laws apply when quoting commercially published materials (ex: book written by a General Authority). Each publisher will have their own interpretation of fair use, so contact them for permission.
  • You must have permission to quote living General Authorities. This includes articles in the Ensign and Conference talks, as well as quotes from their published books. As Church leaders are often traveling, it may take as long as two months for a response.
  • Deceased General Authorities and other Church leaders may be quoted according to existing copyright laws. (You probably need permission for anything published after 1923.)
  • Guidelines for quoting Church Handbooks are generally included in the handbook itself.
  • Art, music, and other works have specific guidelines and need permission to be used.
  • Scriptures may be used without permission, with the exception of the headings, footnotes, Topical Guide and Bible Dictionary, which are copyrighted.
  • Generally, the Church does not give permission for compilations and quote books to use the words of General Authorities and other Church leaders, although the individual may be willing to do so.
  • Permission must be given in writing. You may submit your requests or ask questions via email at cor-intellectualproperty[at]ldschurch[dot]org. (Sorry, I can’t get the link to work.) Give specifics about your project.
  • As might be imagined, the Church’s permissions department has been swamped with requests, so it may take some time for a response. Some items will get a quick response in a matter of days, but longer projects (like books) may take up to two months to receive a response.

It is your responsibility as the author of the book to get written permission for quotes BEFORE you submit your manuscript to a publisher. If you’re having trouble getting those permissions, your publisher may be willing to help you, but be prepared to rewrite if the answer is no.

Author: LDS Publisher

I am an anonymous blogger who works in the LDS publishing industry. I blog about topics that help authors seeking publication and about published fiction by LDS authors.

4 thoughts on “Quoting Church Leaders”

  1. Thank you so much for this blog, LDSP! I was sitting here, thinking, “That’s great to know, but I don’t need it.” Then suddenly I realized that I quote a dedicatory prayer offered in Vietnam by Gordon B. Hinckley and because I read your blog, I knew to ask permission to quote it. Ka-ching!

  2. And THAT is exactly why I do this blog. Thank you for the kind words.

  3. I know this is an older post, but I have a question about personal copyrights. Sometimes I think about sharing a portion of my story (4-6 pages), but I worry that someone may take my idea and make it their own. I know that it would be a different story, because of how they would interpret it.

    But my question is how can you share your story with others (writing groups, online, etc) and make sure that your protected? I don’t imagine it happens often, but what do you do if it does?

  4. Great blog, wonderful information. I am just diving into this new world of writing for the LDS market.

    So, if you quote a living general authority, where do you request permission? Does the church own the copyright or does the individual speaker?

    Also, you do need to submit separate requests to the church for each quoted item or for each project?

    Thanks, you’re a great resource!

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