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John 3:16 Conference :: Chris’ Copyright Crossexamination

Not long ago Todd reported indignantly that he had been unjustly accused of copyright infringement for posting John 3:16 Conference messages.  He complained that someone had gone to the authorities without confronting him personally (like Christians are supposed to do).  Now Chris shares his side of the story, and claims the recording of the messages was legal, but distributing them to others was illegal, and that he did in fact contact Todd personally.  Here are some excerpts from his comments:   

I am the one who posted on Todd’s site that the audio recording being posted on his site was illegal, You have been misinformed if you believe that it is legal. No notice has to be given. The speakers are the legal owners of the material and they granted Jerry Vines Ministries the right to record and reproduce the material. It does not matter that the recordings were made by an individual. He has the right to record the material (unless notice is provided), but he does not have permission to distribute unless he has permission from the copyright owner.

I am not the one that contacted the blog host and reported the activity. I did what was biblical and went to my brother in Christ and confronted him of his sin. He removed the material and in my mind the issue is/was settled. 

I would wonder why you would accuse Jerry Vines Ministry of having no integrity. What have they done…. Todd is the one that violated the law. And while he is the one that broke the law he has no been accused of having no integrity.

… I too am shocked by how Jerry Vines Ministries is being attacked when they have done nothing wrong and the way they are being treated despite the fact that they are the ones that broke the law. Why is no one condemning the actions of Todd? Todd is relying on the ignorance of his “tech guy” and he is getting wrong advice.


Chris … Glad you get your side of the story.  Maybe the Proverbs 18:17 principles applies here.  “The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.”

If Chris is right, all those who recorded the John 3:16 conference and posted them or sent them to a bunch of friends may have broken the law (even if by ignorance).



  1. Chris says:


    Thanks for presenting the other side of the story, and I do want to reiterate that I was NOT the one that contacted the blog host. I dealt directly with Todd via his blog and email.

    The unfortunate aspect of this entire discussion is the accusations that some have made against Jerry Vines Ministries for protecting their copyright, and nothing has been said about the fact that Todd has violated the law. While I firmly believe that he did so out of ignorance for the law and even ignorant advice from his “tech guy,” he still is guilty of breaking the law. I believe the reason this has happened is because of differences of opinion in the material presented, so instead of attacking the material you attack the man. I do not claim to be the most knowledgeable person on this subject, but I have always thought it was wrong to attack the person instead of the ideas.

    I work in the recording industry and I have found that many, if not the majority, of churches are guilty of some kind of copyright infringement due to their lack of knowledge of the laws. Unfortunately ignorance is not a defense in this matter.

    Todd broke the law and I comforted him about it. Instead of doing what was right and removing the material from the public domain he left it on his site with password protection. Somebody else was not satisfied with this so they contacted WordPress (which they had every legal right to do), and WordPress agreed with their argument and shut down Todd’s site. This was also the right thing to do since they could be held liable for hosting the blog. Todd is now upset with Jerry Vines Ministry because he is the one at fault. That is sad and laughable. Repentance is the correct response. He still seems that he believes he has the “right” to post these on his site. If he does I will contact WordPress with the copyright statutes in hand and ask for him to be shut down. I will also advise Jerry Vines Ministry to contact a intellectual property rights attorney to pursue further legal action if they so choose. If they do pursue legal action they can get a court order that will allow them to track anyone that has downloaded the material and pursue damages from those individuals.

    I am appalled that so many so called “Christian” have no desire to follow the laws of this land. I am sure that at some point in time I have ignorantly violated a law unknowingly but after having it brought to my attention I would hope that I would obey. Todd has been made aware of the law and I have provided him with clear information on the copyright statutes, and his response has not been that of repentance but indignant. I would hope his fellow brothers would encourage him to do what is right.


  2. Todd Burus says:

    As you have rightly noted, you did contact me about the legality of distributing these recordings, as well as the fact that I moved to first protect them (which I did as a means of sealing them off from public consumption while I further researched, and not, as some have accused to continue distributing covertly) and then to actually remove them on my own recognizance to stay consistent with Scriptural admonitions of staying above reproach.

    However, your continual insistence that I broke the law, through ignorance or not, is both unnecessary and not uncontested. As you may like to know, the same WordPress which shut me down initially, upon reviewing the complaint and what was on the site, actually told me that I could post that material (I’ll send you that email if you want). Now, maybe they are in the wrong too, but between them, the laws that I reviewed, and the lawyer I contacted on Thursday to ask about this, no one seems to be as convinced of the cut-and-dry nature of this issue as yourself.

    As for my being “upset with Jerry Vines Ministries,” if you follow the comments I have made around the internet, which it seems you have, you will see that what I have said is “I [was] disappointed that the powers that be behind the John 3.16 Conference would move to do such a thing without even having the integrity to contact me first,” the complaints “had come from someone accusing me of direct linking to the product being sold by Jerry Vines Ministries at $50 a piece,” and that “I do not know who complained.” At no point did I say “big, bad Jerry Vines Ministries went crying to the authorities” as you make it seem. I do, however, feel that in light of my actions to remove the material out of concern over comments being made, the actions of another individual to go to the authorities without contacting me or paying notice to my heart on the matter is something questionable in light of 1 Corinthians 6.1-8 (I believe I can say this since you were the only person who contacted me in this manner and you deny being the one who went to the administrators).

    Furthermore, I think that a review of my actions shows none of this indignation I am being accused of, seeing as how my words even before the complaint was filed were to the effect that “though I moved to temporarily protect the audio files of the conference while addressing issues of legality, their have been voices making accusations that I was only hiding them under password and secretly distributing this password to amiable parties. I would like to deny that accusation, and as a move of accountability and in the interest of staying above reproach, I have removed said files from my blog.” I have done my best to be nothing but submitted to Scripture throughout this whole situation, which means both seeking biblical accountability from others as well as maintaining it myself. If you feel I have failed in that respect then I truly am sorry, but please approach me about it instead of simply blogging against my character. I do not feel I have been opposed to words of criticism so far, and do not intend to be anywhere in the near future as well. Thank you.


  3. Chris says:


    I would like the email from WordPress. I received the copy of the email that WordPress sent to the individual that contacted them and it tells a slightly different story. While they did move to protect themselves and shut down your blog they requested further information on the matter because they were unclear. The fact that you recorded the material yourself and did not use the actual recording that Jerry Vines Ministries was selling does not make a difference. Also, did you contact and IPR attorney or a general attorney? I contacted the attorney that I have used in several cases and presented the scenario and questions and he was very cut and dry. I am not trying to be cocky about this matter, recording is how I make my living and I am very well versed in the law. I have seen many others like myself that have been a party in a lawsuit involving this type of matter, and I have seen the outcome. My motivation for approaching you was to encourage you to do the right thing.

    I also went public to the blogs because at the time you had not responded to my emails or to my blog post. You left me with no other option but to take the matter to the body at large. You also prompted at least one discussion that allowed other to question the integrity of Jerry Vines Ministries for any action that may have taken (see https://theophilogue.wordpress.com/2008/11/14/john-316-conference-blogger-accused-of-copyright-infringement-3/#comments). You should have corrected them if that was not your intention or they misunderstood. I personally took your post as a direct attack.

    I do not believe you are a bad person out looking to break the laws. I believe you when you said you that you password protected the material until further research could be done although I do feel it should have been removed to avoid any appearance of wrong doing.

    I read your post on your blog and feel you have made the right decision. I apologize if you felt I made any personal attacks, but I felt in the dark sense I never received a response to any of the private emails I sent you.

    I wish you the best, and Theo, thanks for allowing all sides of this discussion.


  4. Todd Burus says:

    I will forward those emails to you.

    I’m not quite sure why you felt I wasn’t responding. No, I did not email you personally, but it was within hours of your contact with me that I had made moves to protect and then remove the material from my site. In the whirlwind of everything going on there were a lot of personal emails that I did not return (including two I mean to get to tonight). It was a Copyright Lawyer in Gainesville, FL that I contacted on Thursday who shared his take on it with me (the lawyers you provided in ATL were at lunch when I called).

    As for the conduct of others, I had no idea that there was even a thread going about my comments at this site until Theophilogue made me aware of it personally. I certainly do not condone the tone of some of the remarks, but I do not feel that the impression can be made that they are speaking on my behalf, particularly from the words I have spoken in other places, including my own blog.

    To my intentions, I tried to do the best that I could with what I had at all points. There was even a time, following my removing the files from my site, in which I deleted some of the comments calling for me to take down the material so that overzealous supporters would not unnecessarily harass those posters. I have never wanted this to escalate into an argument, though I think we both can attest that there are already a lot of those feelings boiling long before we ever stepped into it (as with anything, there will always be fanatics on either side).

    I appreciate your willingness to confront me on this issue and again want to reiterate that I never felt like anything you said or did was out of line.

    Grace and peace,

  5. theophilogue says:

    I am very pleased to see you guys come to a common “agree to disagree” reconciliation over this matter. When I initially posted about it, I never imagined you guys would be working it out in public over the blog (esp mine), I just thought it was an interesting incident that deserved some attention either way.

    Thanks for your interaction and comments.

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