We received the following letter to the editors at 9:44 p.m. on Saturday, July 20, 2019 from the general counsel’s personal email address. We publish it here because it’s too long for our Letters page.
Apparently, using a photo from the website of the Orthodox Church in America to illustrate the love and concern of Orthodox grandparents for their young gay grandson is too much for the members of the Holy Synod to bear. In order not to cause the bishops any more emotional hardship, we have removed the offending image.
In the meantime, we await their pastoral response—beyond one OCA bishop’s request for us not to bother him anymore—to our LGBTQI Listening Tour: An Open Letter to Our Bishops in the USA and Canada and our unanswered appeal to another OCA bishop on behalf of a man needing the care of a priest.

Your Recent Publication of OCA Photographic Images

Dear Editors:

I am E. R. Lanier, a licensed attorney at law and the appointed General Counsel of the Orthodox Church in America. My duties to the Church include the legal protection and enforcement of the OCA’s intellectual property rights as these exist under federal and state law within the United States of America.

Concerned persons have within the past few hours brought it to my attention that your website, “Orthodoxy in Dialogue,” at, has engaged in the blatant and intentional copying of a photographic image belonging to the Orthodox Church in America and its ecclesiastical subdivisions, this without the knowledge, consent, or permission of the Orthodox Church in America or its subdivisions. That photograph may now be viewed, as you well know, in the July 20, 2019, post on that website entitled “LETTER TO A YOUNG GAY ORTHODOX CAMPER.”

You are undoubtedly aware that the photographic images of the Orthodox Church in America and its ecclesiastical subdivisions are subject to copyright protection under the Copyright Act, Title 17, United States Code. The Copyright Act does not require any kind of intent or knowledge on your part as an infringer that your unpermitted use in this instance infringes upon another party’s copyright. Therefore, even if you did not know that the Orthodox Church in America’s images were copyrighted or that you lacked authorization to use them, you are potentially liable for the imposition of civil remedies under the law in these circumstances. 

As the sole copyright owners of the work in question, the Orthodox Church in America and its subdivisions have the exclusive right to use the work, prepare derivative works from the original, and to display the work publicly and to distribute copies of the work by sale or other transfer of ownership.

By this communication, we hereby enter our demand that the infringing image be immediately removed from your website and that you immediately cease and desist from any further reproduction, display, broadcast, transmission, offering for sale, advertising, promotion, distribution of, or any other use or exploitation of any of the OCA’s photographic images, including the infringing image.

I make no representations here as to any legal recourse which may be initiated against you by any persons whose images are included in the photograph in question.

I use this informal method of electronic communication on my personal computer at this time in order to expedite your consideration and compliance with this demand.

Sincerely yours,

E. R. Lanier
General Counsel, Orthodox Church in America

Read our response of July 21 here.
See the Fifty Years after Stonewall and extensive Sexuality and Gender sections in our Archives by Author & Subject.
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