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Copyright Case: A Course In Miracles

Day Two of the trial: Tuesday, May 20, 2003

The Miracle Times interviewed Ellie Anderson today to get the key points.

Background    Day 1      Day 2      Day 3     A Miracle Story



Trial notes
What happened in 1975 when an enthusiastic student of psychic phenomena was distributing photocopies of A Course In Miracles to her many friends and contacts was the chief subject of a copyright trial in New York on Tuesday.

On May 29th, 1975, Judy first met Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford who had collaborated in transcribing the message of Jesus Christ proclaiming that this world is an illusion.

In a locked room, with the blinds pulled down over the windows, they gave her a copy of A Course In Miracles. Helen did not want to have her name associated with a document channeled by Jesus. They were faculty members at the Columbia University College for Physicians and Surgeons in New York.

But from 1965 to 1972, Helen had heard the voice of Jesus, and Bill had typed the words. In three volumes, 1,800 typed pages. 

“Wait till you see what I have,” Judy Skutch told her husband, Robert, as she was half-way in the door of their New York apartment on the evening of the day she first met Bill and Helen.

That is what Robert Skutch wrote in his book, Journey Without Distance: The Story Behind A Course In Miracles. “Wait till you see what I have” is not a very controversial statement.

But the plaintiffs are challenging other details in the book, as to how Judy gave away photocopies of A Course In Miracles to “over a hundred people in San Francisco."

Ken Wapnick and Judy Skutch are key figures in the Foundation for Inner Peace and the Foundation of A Course in Miracles, who are suing the New Christian Church of Full Endeavor over breach of copyright.

The Church is arguing that the Course was entered into the public domain when copies of the original typescript were given away in their hundreds.

Both Ken Wapnick and Judy Skutch gave evidence today along with Jim Bolen, founder of Psychic magazine, who is described in Journey Without Distance as making a Xeroxed copy of the typescript.

Ellie Anderson

In Journey Without Distance, Robert Skutch writes:  “Jim’s copy started to be reproduced. And those copies were then copied. And before long there were over a hundred people in the San Francisco area in possession of A Course In Miracles.”

On Monday, Judy Skutch told the court that she had not read her husband’s book while he was writing it and had not known the story was included. On Tuesday, Jim Bolen, who has performed consulting services for the plaintiffs, also rebutted the details about photocopying in the book. He said that Robert Skutch had not checked the story with him.

Journey Without Distance is one of a number of books, tapes, transcripts and other materials entered as evidence for the defense by the New Christian Church of Full Endeavor.

In "How it Came", a 1987 video produced by the Foundation for Inner Peace, Judy Skutch says:

"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 five cents a copy of a 1,000 page document, it was very expensive."

The lawyer for the defense read excerpts from the materials in evidence where Judy described giving away copies of the Course to anyone who wanted them. However, Judy has rebutted the details in these quotes, claiming that she was “embellishing” the truth and “weaving” stories.

She did confirm that it was her voice on tapes provided by the Church which showed her speaking at meetings of the Association of Research and Enlightenment, and she confirmed the accuracy of the transcripts.

The defense lawyer read her a series of quotes from “the Mazza tapes”. They include the following:

“It was for anyone who wanted it.”

“It seems very right that people would pass it along.”

“The copies got lighter and lighter the more people that copied it.”

At this point in her testimony, the defense lawyer said: Now you’re telling me that you were lying in these stories?

No, I was embellishing, Judy Skutch replies.

Defense lawyer asked: Isn’t embellishing the same as lying?

Judy Skutch did not reply.

When asked why she was not saying that it was Jesus who wrote the Course, she said: “I’m uncomfortable saying it’s Jesus because I’m Jewish.”

Again, the defense lawyer read from a transcript: “Suddenly there were hundreds of people carrying around twenty pounds of manuscripts, .... Then the miracles of publishing began.”

When Judy was asked to comment on this quote, she said:  “That is storytelling”.

Dr Ken Wapnick also took the stand and his testimony will continue tomorrow. Ken Wapnick was so soft spoken that the stenographer could barely hear him and the plaintiff’s lawyer had to move closer to the witness so as to hear his answers.

End of day 2.

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