Request a clarification on usage of non-church owned websites

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daddy-o-p40
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Request a clarification on usage of non-church owned websites

Postby daddy-o-p40 » Wed Jul 25, 2007 4:10 am

Brethren-

We would like clarification on what is permitted or not permitted.

There is a letter from the Presiding Bishopric dated December 13, 2004. The subject is Authorized Churct Web Sites.

It reads as follows:
-----
The Church has established a number of global Web sites and e-mail networks. There may also be Church-sponsored country or area Web sites, stake and ward Web sites on lds.org, and e-mail services for priesthood leaders and missionaries. These Web sites contain Church-approved content, meet the legal requirements of copyrights and privacy, and can be recognized by the presence of the Church logo. No other sites are authorized.

This restriction includes but is not limited to temples, missions, visitors' centers, auxiliaries, quorums, classes, Scout units, and committees for special events. Any such Web sites or e-mail groups sjhould be discontinued immediately.

This is an update of the guidelines from the January 22, 2003, letter of the Presiding Bishopric, regarding stake and ward Websites.
-----

It is also attached in a PDF for reference.

So here are my questions:
1) Are there letters on this subject that further clarify or replace this one?

2) As I read this this is only limiting the use of public content websites correct? (Meaning this does not apply to non-content tools such as the secured and priviate sites such as the Scouting, Geneology, YM/YW websites, or Home Teaching websites?)

I would think given the nature of this website this would be an important clarification to have.

Any help would be appreciated as my Stake Presidency needs to have the most recent info to permit the use of these tools.

Thanks!
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Authorized church web sites.pdf
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russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Wed Jul 25, 2007 12:01 pm

My understanding is there is to be no website that represents an official church unit or organization. So, no RS, YM, YW, Singles, etc. This doesn't prevent individuals from creating websites that have some specific interests - such as a website for RS sisters, or church teens, etc. But it can never become the "voice of" or officially tied to a ward or stake.

Obviously there are exceptions that are granted at the top level. Things like lds.org, FamilySearch.org, etc.

While some of the concerns about "local" websites disappears when they aren't public, I see nothing granting exceptions to sites that are closed to the public. "No other sites are authorized." sounds quite plain to me.

But since you are looking for an official answer, notice that this older letter dated 2001 is in the new STS section of lds.org. As such, it would be safe to consider it current policy. Also, ask your Stake President to consult the current version of the Church Handbook of Instruction. There's a good chance it's covered there. If your stake president still has questions, I suggest he call Church Headquarters.

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Postby daddy-o-p40 » Wed Jul 25, 2007 3:22 pm

RussellHltn,

I appreciate your thoughts on this as well as the link to the older letter. The Stake Presidency has referenced their manuals and it is just not clear enough for the masses. This prior letter was about discontinuing the use of local sites now that http://www.lds.org was up to speed.

The concern is that the Dec 13, 2004 letter talks about "no other sites authorized" [color="Blue"]as it relates to the usage of Church content[/color]. The really bad part is not everyone understands the [color="Blue"]context of the word "content" as it relates to the web[/color].

If a non-technical person reads the letter they think they cannot use ancestry.com, scouting.org, ellisisland.com, and all the other web tools sites which are commonly used.

In summary, it is NOT that plain to the less technical people who have to interpret these letters.:confused:

P.S. There's should to be a July 1, 2005 letter on the subject of the internet as it relates to Family History Centers. Can you send me a link to that as well?
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russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Wed Jul 25, 2007 5:24 pm

I'll give you a deep link to the Letters and Polices section for Stake Technology Specialists. No log in is required to find this section, it's open to anyone who browses the right way from the lds.org site. I'm sure you'll find many things of interest there. ;)

As for trying to explain the existing letters: Keep in mind it's addressed to church units and telling them they can not have a website or email list. It is not addressed to Church members telling them they can not access any such site. Nor is it addressed to church members that they can not have personal websites that may be of interest to a given demographic.

In other words, the site can not represent an official organization at the stake or ward level. It can only represent individuals. At least that's my take on the subject. (Stake a ward sites within lds.org are an obvious exception.)

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Postby WelchTC » Fri Jul 27, 2007 7:16 am

The obvious sites that are not allowed are any sites that imply any official statement, content, or views of the Church, sites that provide information that may be copyrighted by the Church or other individuals, sites that allow or encourage anyone to upload any membership data or confidential information. We will continue to work on refining this policy to be more specific.

Tom

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Postby daddy-o-p40 » Fri Jul 27, 2007 9:12 am

Tomw-

We really need this clarified otherwise the use of commonly used sites (such as scouting.org, ymyw.org, etc.) are perceived as being in violation of church policy.

I would think this to be a higher priority given that it will undermine the innovation that beta.tech.lds.org is about. :(
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Postby mkmurray » Fri Jul 27, 2007 9:59 am

enriquer wrote:Tomw-

We really need this clarified otherwise the use of commonly used sites (such as scouting.org, ymyw.org, etc.) are perceived as being in violation of church policy.

I would think this to be a higher priority given that it will undermine the innovation that beta.tech.lds.org is about. :(

I think Tom W. is saying that "Church content" mentioned in the letter is referring to official Church data that would come from MLS or similar systems. We should not export data from such systems and then directly upload them into a non-Church hosted server.

There is no violation in merely using sites like ancestry.com, scounting.org, ymyw.org, ellisisland.com, in the normal way (just as long as you are not uploading MLS data directly into these sites). Genealogical data, Scouting progress data, and YM/YW award progress data is not considered "Church content" (someone correct me if I'm wrong please).

The other intent of the letter is for local units not to create their own websites that attempt to officially represent the Church or some Church organization in any way. Obviously the sites you mention were not created by you, nor did the authors of the sites create them in an attempt to represent the Church in any official capacity. There were designed to merely help you with some task, like researching your ancestors, keeping track of scouting progress, etc. They are only helpful, supplementary sites, and not trying to be official Church sites.

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Postby WelchTC » Fri Jul 27, 2007 1:23 pm

mkmurray wrote:I think Tom W. is saying that "Church content" mentioned in the letter is referring to official Church data that would come from MLS or similar systems. We should not export data from such systems and then directly upload them into a non-Church hosted server.

There is no violation in merely using sites like ancestry.com, scounting.org, ymyw.org, ellisisland.com, in the normal way (just as long as you are not uploading MLS data directly into these sites). Genealogical data, Scouting progress data, and YM/YW award progress data is not considered "Church content" (someone correct me if I'm wrong please).

The other intent of the letter is for local units not to create their own websites that attempt to officially represent the Church or some Church organization in any way. Obviously the sites you mention were not created by you, nor did the authors of the sites create them in an attempt to represent the Church in any official capacity. There were designed to merely help you with some task, like researching your ancestors, keeping track of scouting progress, etc. They are only helpful, supplementary sites, and not trying to be official Church sites.

Until I get better clarification, I think this sums it up pretty clearly.

Tom

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WelchTC
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I might also add...

Postby WelchTC » Fri Jul 27, 2007 1:40 pm

We had this question come in to our "Ask a Question" feature and got this answer from our correlation department.

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Postby daddy-o-p40 » Fri Jul 27, 2007 6:00 pm

Tomw / Mkmurray-

Hmmm....this is still not as clear as you would think. You see we really need a definition of what is deemed "content" by the Church. If you use the definition known to all of us in cyberspace it is the copyrighted material mentioned in that letter.

While we are at it we probably need the church's definition of "uploaded" too. Is uploaded a file upload or does it also mean keyed in?

So if ward members/leaders are to use the ymyw.org or scouting.org we have a problem. Because all of the informaiton they have does originate from the MLS system in one fashion or another.
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