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Copyright TIMELINE

A Timeline
1958

Helen Schucman, Ph.D., a clinical and research psychologist, accepts a position as Associate Professor of Medical Psychology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City under William Thetford, PhD. When she met Bill for the first time, although she did not know why, she had the thought: "So this is the man I am supposed to help."


William Thetford, Ph.D., is Director of the Psychology Department at the Presbyterian Hospital in New York City and tenured Professor of Medical Psychology, Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Dr. Thetford becomes Helen’s trusted friend and colleague, and assisted Dr. Schucman throughout the Course's scribing, including the events that led up to it. He not only acted as transcriber throughout the entire process by typing the material from the scribed notes that Dr. Schucman had taken down but was a tremendous psychological support to Helen as she struggled with her feelings of imposition and her basic mistrust of the process.

 

Spring 1965

In the spring of 1965, just before setting out for a difficult departmental meeting, Bill makes an impassioned speech to Helen in which he says, "There must be another way. Our attitudes are so negative that we cannot work anything out." To Bill's surprise, Helen agrees, without reservation, to help him find "another way."

 

Summer 1965

A dramatic progression of waking dreams for Schucman ensues, culminating with her experiencing a Voice which speaks clearly in her mind. The Voice, which Helen references with a capital “V”, explains to her the visions she has been receiving.

 

October 1965

One day in October 1965, Helen heard the Voice say: "This is a course in miracles; please take notes."

With Thetford's support and assistance in transcribing her shorthand notes, Schucman takes down, over several years, some 1,500 typewritten pages which becomes A Course in Miracles.

 

1969

A lengthy process of retyping the Course begins.  Bill Thetford is adamant that no changes be made other than correcting the typing errors and removing specifically personal material. Jesus designates Bill to be the one in charge of all changes. At least one copy is given to Fr. Benedict Groeshel, CFR, (Also known as “Father Michael”), a graduate student of Helen and Bill’s.

Spring 1972

Dictation of the third volume, Manual for Teachers, begins.

September 1972

The retyping of the text is completed. The transcribing of the third and final volume, the Manual for Teachers, is completed.

Fall 1972

In the months following the completion of A Course in Miracles in 1972, at least four people are given allegedly unrestricted copies: Cal Thatcher, a close friend of Helen’s; Fr. Benedict Groeshel, CFR, student of Helen’s; Hugh Lynn Cayce, son of psychic Edgar Cayce and Kenneth Wapnick, a clinical psychologist, who had recently converted to Catholicism and is informed of Bill and Helen through Father Groeshel.

 

November 1972

Helen and Bill meet Ken Wapnick for the first time. He leaves shortly afterward for Israel to spend some quiet time before entering the monastery.

 

May 1973


Ken Wapnick returns from Israel, meets with Helen and asks to see Helen’s manuscript.  

 

 

Fall 1973

Ken requests permission from Helen to re-edit the Course.

During the editing: 25% of the first 5 chapters is deleted; paragraphs are rearranged; chapter and section titles, previously inserted by Bill and Helen during their re-typing, are changed; punctuation is changed; CAPITALIZATION, previously included for emphasis, is changed to lower case and, in only a few cases, replaced with italics.

The 53 miracle principles are changed to 50. Descriptions of the miracle principles are re-arranged and in some cases obtained from other areas of the text. 127 references to “Soul” are changed to 12. The word “Soul” is either deleted or changed to another word such as:  creations, you, spirit.

Spring 1975




Helen, Bill and Ken meet Judy Skutch, president of the Foundation for Parasensory Investigation, during a meeting which has been previously arranged to discuss holistic healing. Judy is shown the newly revised “Course in Miracles”.

 

Summer 1975



Judy Skutch receives permission from Helen and Bill to share copies of the Course with close friends. Judy gives copies to several close friends, among them are Jerry Jampolsky and Jim Bolen.

 

Fall 1975

The Foundation for Parasensory Investigation changes its name to the Foundation for Inner Peace.

September 1975

Criswell Edition is printed and distributed.

October 1975

Application for a copyright is made. FIP intends to register the copyright with “Jesus” as the author. When informed that a copyright could not legally be granted to a non-physical author, FIP does not list the name of Jesus, but instead lists “Anonymous (Helen Schucman)”.

December 1975

Copyright is granted.

June 1976

First Edition abridgment is printed.

February 1981.

Helen Schucman passes away from pancreatic cancer in New York City.

1985

Second Edition is published.

1987

In the 1987 Video, produced by the FIP, promoting and describing the Course, Ken Wapnick says on camera:

"One of the things I was most impressed with about the course was
that Jesus was the author of it. I just could not believe that
anyone else could have written it. It was very clear to me that Helen
could not have written it and I just could not imagine it having any
other source than Jesus himself."

 

1987

In "How it Came", a 1987 video produced by FIP Judith Skutch relates:

"At this point it seemed clear that I had to study this document and while studying it, I shared it with a lot of people. I made many trips to California and while I was there I told a whole community of people I worked with the story of the Course. Naturally they all wanted to see copies. I was kept busy running off Xerox copies and at $.05 a copy of a 1000 page document, it was very expensive."

 

September 1991

FIP gave permission to author Marianne Williamson on September 10, 1991 to use 1,000 “Fair Use” words.

 

March 1992

.
FIP/FACIM sends a letter of complaint, March 3, 1992 to author Marianne Williamson, asking for royalties.  Marianne agrees to pay 4% royalty fee for both English and foreign translations of her book, “A Return to Love”

 

 

December 1992

FACIM explains, in their “Lighthouse” newsletter, why the Course was copyrighted and why they are enforcing the copyright so stridently. They admit they were forced to disavow Jesus as the author in order to obtain the copyright.

 

November 1993

FIP registered a trademark/service mark for “A Course in Miracles” and a trademark for the initials “ACIM”.

September 1994

Compuserve is forced by FACIM attorneys to close “Course in Miracles” Forum on Compuserve (CIS) due to trademark violation. Letter issued to all Course students from RajPur.

 

December 1995

A publishing agreement between FIP and Viking Penguin, A Division of Penguin Books USA, Inc., is reached.

March 1996

Penguin pays the Foundation for Inner Peace a royalty advancement of $3 million dollars for exclusive use of the copyright.

April 1996

 

 


New christian Church of Full Endeavor (Church) receives a cease and desist letter from Penguin.

June 1996

Penguin Books USA, with the approval of President Judy Skutch-Whitson of the Foundation (FIP) and Kenneth Wapnick, Executive Committee member, brought a copyright infringement lawsuit against the New Christian Church of Full Endeavor (Church) , its ministerial teaching arm, alleging violations of the copyright on “A Course in Miracles”. The lawsuit asked for over 1 Million Dollars in damages. The copyright was allegedly owned by the Foundation for Inner Peace, Inc. and licensed to Penguin Books USA. 

June 1996

Church answsered the Complaint, claiming among other things, that since, 

  1. the Author of A Course in Miracles is Jesus (identified as such by the scribe, Helen Schucman, by the Foundation to the world, and by himself in the Course specifically to you), and since 
  2. the United States Copyright Office says that words from a Divine Being cannot be copyrighted and Jesus is a Divine Being; and, applying the facts of this case to their statutes, rules and regulations, 
  3. Church asserts the copyright has been invalid from the beginning (Void ab Initio). 

September 1996

Penguin's first amended complaiint, filed September 17, 1996: (excerpt)

"Copyright in A Course In Miracles”

8. The author of the Book is Helen Schucman. The Book consists of three parts: (i) the "Text", (ii) the "Workbook for Students" and (iii) the "Manual for Teachers."

 

January 1997

In an Order dated January 22, 1997, Judge Sweet of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York denies Church’s Motion to Dismiss for lack of standing, improper venue and failure to join a necessary party on the grounds that the Church could not continue to represent itself PRO SE and for Church to obtain Counsel and, at such time, Church had "leave to renew at such time as counsel is secured."
 

January 1998 Robert Perry, Circle of Atonement (COA), submits a manuscript to FIP/FACIM. Robert intended this manuscript to be his “major statement to date about A Course in Miracles. I had a literary agent who felt there was a good possibility of having it published by a major New York publisher, although the agent made it clear that he couldn't represent me without official permission to quote from the Course.” 

May 1998

FIP joins in Penguin suit against Church as a second co-plaintiff and an additional trademark damages of 4 Million Dollars is claimed. The new complaint makes no mention of authorship, as plaintiffs assert only that FIP is sole “proprietor” of the copyright. 

In this Second Complaint, Church is charged with three additional counts of Trademark infringement for its use of the Foundation's trademarks, "A Course In Miracles" and "ACIM". The amended Complaint alleges that the Foundation had incurred "irreparable injury" by such use; that Church is attempting to "pass off its writings as if authorized by the Foundation; that Church's publications are "falsely designated as originating from or connected with the Foundation"; and that they "tarnished" and "blurred the identifying function of the marks". The new Complaint requests total monetary damages of $4 million plus treble damages; attorney's fees, etc.

 

September 1998

As of September 1998 and, following New York State approval *effective February 1999*, the Foundation transfers its copyright and trademarks in A Course in Miracles to the Foundation for ‘A Course in Miracles’ (FACIM).

November 1998

FIP moves the Court for a "Protective Order" limiting the manner and method by which Endeavor is permitted access to certain "Confidential Documents", including the original manuscripts and transcriptions of A Course In Miracles, as sought in Church's Request to the Foundation for Production of Documents.

The Court holds that Church would be permitted access to such "Confidential" documents in New York City, rather than Roscoe, N.Y., with the Foundation to bear Church's travel and lodging costs while in New York to inspect the documents.  

 

March 1999

In Judy Skutch’s sworn deposition (pg 51), Judy disavows co-authorship of the December 1992 “Lighthouse” article, co-authored with Ken Wapnick, in which they claim the Copyright Office told them they couldn’t copyright a “divinely authored” document.

 

March 1999

In Ken Wapnick's sworn deposition (pg 54), Ken claims “it’s another Jesus”.

  Q: Are we talking about the biblical Jesus or is there a different Jesus that we may be talking about?

A: It was a different Jesus.

 

March 1999 Over a year later, after the copyright was transferred to FACIM, Robert Perry is denied permission to publish his book, with no explanation.

 

April 1999 When asked for an explanation, Ken Wapnick writes in a letter to COA, "to the extent you choose to publish your manuscript, that the Foundation for A Course in Miracles, as owner of the copyright of the Course, intends to vigorously and vigilantly safeguard its rights with respect to protecting its legal interests."

 

April 1999

“Anonymous Correspondent Service” begins when an Anonymous person starts to send warning letters via email to hundreds of groups and individuals, ranging from operators of internet mailing lists to Unity Churches. The letters threaten legal repercussions if the infringement activity does not cease.

 

June 1999 Robert Perry and Allen Watson appeal for an open discussion of the questions Robert has raised in his open letter to Ken Wapnick.

 

July 1999 Ken responds to Robert Perry:

"In conclusion, Robert and Allen, while you are certainly entitled to your mischaracterizations, misrepresentations, and use of misinformation - both in form and content - that hardly makes them valid, nor does it justify your making them public.
Peace, Ken."

 

July 1999

FIP files its Third Amended Complaint, adding as an additional plaintiff, The Foundation for ‘A Course in Miracles’ (FACIM).

 

July 1999

The Circle of Atonement (COA) receives a cease and desist letter from FACIM's lawyers, demanding that they stop distributing most of their materials. Efforts to dialogue with Ken Wapnick publicly and to discuss the matter with him privately failed. Ken asked that the COA stop exchanging letters.

 

August 1999

Circle of Atonement files a legal complaint for declaratory relief against FACIM and the FIP, the current and original copyright holders for A Course in Miracles, and also Penguin Books, the publisher of A Course in Miracles. Perry's motion did NOT call for the cancellation of the Course copyright and trademarks.

 

September 1999

FIP and FACIM answer complaint. Deny the idea that the Course contains the words of Jesus, is a divine revelation, or is a modern day scripture. Helen Schucman is described as the author of the Course, not its scribe, and Jesus is not mentioned as having a role in the origin of the Course.

In a counterclaim, the FIP/FACIM cites 52 infringing works published by COA, and asks for damages ranging from $1 million to $5 million.

 

November 1999

Ryan Rothgeb is sued by FIP/FACIM for $450,000.

 

December 1999

FACIM files a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Copyright only).

 

January 2000

A copy of the text portion of the manuscript is obtained from the library of the Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.) in Virginia Beach, VA sometime previous to this month. An Electronic copy of the 1972 edition of text portion of the Course in Miracles, located in the A.R.E. library, appears on the internet in January, 2000.

 

February 2000

Incorporation of the Course in Miracles Society (CIMS), a Nebraska, U.S.A., not for profit organization. 

  Mission Statement:
"The Course in Miracles Society (CIMS) is an international group of Course students and teachers organized to discover, authenticate and propagate the divine teachings of A Course in Miracles. As students, we seek to increase our knowledge of Jesus' words and to deepen our experience of his teaching. As teachers we work to circulate the message of A Course throughout the world by our words, by our deeds and by the example of our lives."

 

February 2000

Church files a Cross-motion for Summary Judgment (copyright and Trademark) on February 3, 2000

 

March 2000

Course in Miracles Society (CIMS) publishes the text portion of the 1972 edition of the Course in Miracles, obtained from the internet, titled “Jesus’ Course in Miracles”, along with a side-by-side comparison (also obtained from the internet) between this early edition and the current 2nd edition.

April 2000

Negotiated settlement between COA and FIP/FACIM takes place in San Francisco on April 24 and April 25, 2000.

 

April 2000

April 3, 2000, CIMS files a declaratory judgment action for a declaration of invalidity, non-infringement and unenforceability of the ACIM copyright, against FIP/FACIM in the U.S. District Court of Nebraska.

April 2000

April 7, 2000, FIP/FACIM obtained a Temporary Restraining Order, restraining CIMS “from directly or indirectly infringing any of the copyrights in A Course in Miracles (or any version or portion thereof), in any manner, including, without limitation, by printing, creating electronic versions of, posting copies on the Internet, otherwise reproducing, creating derivative works (including translations), displaying, manufacturing, printing, reprinting, publishing, vending, taking orders, distributing, gifting, transferring, selling, licensing, promoting, advertising, or otherwise exploiting any infringing copies of A Course in Miracles (or any version or portion thereof), or by causing or participating in any such acts”.

April 2000

On April 13, 2000, oral arguments are heard before Judge Sweet on FACIM’s motion for partial summary judgment and on Church's Cross-motion for summary judgment.

All papers filed, with Church submitting 11 volumes of extensive exhibits and 3 volumes of supporting Affidavits submitted by the Church. Judge Sweet allowed Church's NY attorney, Lawrence Fabian to speak first, and Larry covers 3 major points in Church's Motion for Summary Judgment:

1) Fraud - [in failing to reveal to the Copyright Office the Jesus was the author]
2) Copyright estoppel - [in representing Jesus as author for 25 years before changing the author to Helen Schucman for the purpose of the litigation] and
3) Publishing [distributing copies of the Course] without copyright notice prior to filing for copyright.

 

May 2000

May 17, 2000, U.S. District Court in Nebraska hears CIMS motion to enjoin FACIM from proceeding with suit in Kentucky and FACIM’s motion to either dismiss the case or transfer venue to Kentucky.

CIMS motion to enjoin FACIM from proceeding with suit was denied. Venue was transferred to Kentucky.

CIMS motion to postpone July 18th hearing is accepted.

 

June 2000 Joe Jesseph admits in mea culpa email to being the notorious FACIM correspondent.

 

June 2000

FACIM serves a motion for preliminary injunction papers on Church on June 14, 2000, asking for a hearing on June 21, 2000 to enjoin Church from any new website activities, particularly with respect to the Hugh Lynn Cayce version which had begun appearing on the internet in January of 1999, pending the courts' decision on the parties' motion for summary judgment.

The Judge denied Wapnick's motion, saying a proper party was not before his Court, since Wapnick, who was not a party, individually claimed ownership in that version. The Court further said that if Wapnick could show an alleged assignment from him to FACIM, then he would give Church a further opportunity to respond.

A week later, Wapnick's attorneys produced an alleged "assignment" from Louis Schucman dated 1990 [nine years after Helen Schucman's death] allegedly covering the 1972 HLC version, and an assignment from Wapnick, individually to FACIM dated in March, 2000.

Church during a visit to the US Copyright Office, learned that the Hugh Lynn Cayce version had never been deposited in that office by Wapnick and was not a part of the 22 volumes filed by Wapnick for copyright in 1990. Thus, the Church's response was again that there was still no party entitled to claim an infringement of any alleged copyright on the HLC version.

July 2000

On July 21, 2000, Judge Sweet of the US Federal Court for the Southern District Court for New York denied BOTH motions of FACIM and of Church for summary judgment.

The court found factual issues here regarding two of Church's defenses: (1) whether or not the plaintiffs had distributed copies of the Course without copyright notice prior to the Course being filed for copyright (called legally" prior publication" and (2) whether FACIM has a valid trademark in the Title of A Course in Miracles.

August 2000

THE SOURCETEXT CREW
___________
The Light has come ___________

Original, unedited manuscript of the Course in Miracles (urtext) is digitally produced and published on the internet by the "Source Text Crew"

As quickly as web sites appear offering downloads, they are dismantled by efforts of the FIP/FACIM attorneys.

 

September 2000

The Court on September 6, 2000 entered an Order for Preliminary Injunction against Church’s copying of certain materials and students’ posting  infringing material on websites. Church, contending that the Injunction Order was overbroad and unclear and did not provide for “Fair Use,” filed a Motion for Dissolution of the Injunction, or In the Alternative, Modification and Clarification of the Court’s Injunction Order.

Plaintiffs subsequently filed a Motion which sought to hold Church in contempt for violation of the Injunction in various particulars.

 

November 2000

A Hearing on Plaintiffs’ Motion was held on November 8, 2000 at which time the Court declined to hold Church in contempt, but requested both parties to agree to a satisfactory New Order primarily providing, among other things, that students using the Church’s Internet Server not post infringing materials on their individual websites.

December 2000

The Court has ordered a Settlement Conference in the FACIM/CIMS case to be held in Louisville on January 17 although FACIM's attorneys have asked for a delay in the conference pending completion of an initial round of discovery. No date for a Settlement Conference has been set.

 

January 2001

Websites of students who desire to use the Church’s Server for their websites are hereafter modified along “fair use” lines, as of January, 2001, and plaintiffs then approve such websites as not being infringing.

Spring 2001

Church continues to gather evidence and has taken depositions in North Carolina, California and New York in support of its defense that the Course was circulated without copyright notice prior to its being filed for copyright, thus injecting it into the public domain. Further depositions are scheduled in March in NY.

Summer 2001

The parties have agreed, subject to the Court’s approval, that the trial will consist only of the issue of the Validity of the Copyright, based on Church’s prior  publication defense.  Trial of the validity of plaintiffs’ trade and service marks registrations would then occur only after a  determination of whether or not plaintiffs have a valid copyright. Either party could, of course,  appeal the Court’s decision in that regard. The case will be held before a Jury, perhaps as early as this Fall.

Summer 2001 FACIM limits "Fair Use" of ACIM to just 300 words in new five page copyright policy.

 

June 2001


After thirty year legal battle remarkably similar to the ACIM copyright litigations, Urantia Foundation loses its copyright in a jury trial. Appeal is expected

 

June 2001 Dear ETC subscriber,  (Electronic mailing of daily Text commentaries)
 
 As a result of our continuing efforts to have a clear understanding with
 the Foundation for "A Course in Miracles" regarding our use of the copyrighted material of the Course, we regret to inform you that we must, once again, delay the distribution of the Electronic Text Commentaries. The commentary sent out on Thursday, May 31, will be the last one for a while. We do not expect this delay to last more than a few weeks, but we do not have a definite date as yet. As soon as we know when we can resume publication, we will let you know.
 
 We are sorry if this causes you any inconvenience in your study of the
 Text with our study guides, but it is unavoidable. We hope this will be the
 last such delay.
 
 Yours in forgiveness,
 Allen Watson and Robert Perry
 
 We have pretty much finalized our agreement with FACIM, and we
 expect to resume publication any day now. More than that I can't say."
 --
 Peace, Allen Watson
 The Circle of Atonement, P.O. Box 4238, W. Sedona AZ, 86340, USA


October 2003

 

Judge Sweet invalidates ACIM copyright with cost to defendant.
RULING [PDF]

FINAL December 2003 RULING ORDER

More HISTORY OF COPYRIGHT COURT CASE here

 

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