The S-Anon World Service Office (WSO) fields many questions from members each year regarding the use of intellectual property developed by the Fellowship. In the more recent months since many S-Anon groups have adapted to virtual or electronic meetings, the WSO has seen a significant rise in questions related to the protection of S-Anon’s copyrighted material.
While many cases of copyright infringement are obvious violations such as distributing and publishing entire pieces of work or continuously reprinting or reproducing excerpts of S-Anon literature through the internet or electronic devices, there are also other, more nuanced occurrences that may or may not exceed Fair Use laws. Understanding the nuances of what constitutes a copyright violation is no easy task, even within the court of law, but as it relates to use within the S-Anon fellowship, we have the guiding spiritual principles of the S-Anon Twelve Traditions that call upon us to honor the spirit of S-Anon’s copyright.
Addressing Copyright Infringements within the Fellowship
While reproducing and redistributing S-Anon literature repeatedly, in-part, or as a replacement for purchasing (printed, digitally, or electronically) may seem like carrying the message, it has many unintended consequences:
Tradition Seven: The sale of S-Anon literature contributes to S-Anon’s ability to be fully self-supporting and continue carrying the message of recovery to those who have been affected by the sexual behavior of a family member or friend. Failing to defend and protect our copyright literature by permitting unauthorized uses of S-Anon literature diverts proceeds that would otherwise flow to support S-Anon and may jeopardize our ability to remain fully self-supporting.
Tradition Five and Tradition Ten: The World Service Office (WSO) is tasked with, among many other responsibilities, protecting S-Anon’s copyright. If S-Anon groups and members infringe upon S-Anon’s copyright, addressing violations directs S-Anon’s minimal resources from our primary purpose. It also has the potential to entangle S-Anon in outside issues such as legal disputes.
Tradition One and Tradition Four: The unity highlighted in Tradition One inspires the awareness that the long-term viability and preservation of the S-Anon fellowship belongs to all members. By placing an individual’s or group’s needs or desires above S-Anon’s common welfare, we lose sight of the importance of this unity. While groups are autonomous, they do not have the authority to approve the reprint or reproduction of S-Anon literature as this affects S-Anon as a whole by weakening the copyright ownership, diluting the Traditions as our spiritual guide, and diverting revenue from the S-Anon WSO.
The S-Anon Board of Trustees has identified a need for a more comprehensive guideline for groups and individuals to reference when questioning what is and isn’t a violation of copyright. For now, we ask all members to consider, on a case-by-case basis, how the use of S-Anon literature during meetings honors and supports the fellowship as a whole as opposed to benefiting individuals in the short term.
The Twelve Traditions remind us that the common welfare of S-Anon belongs to the groups, and that we are all responsible for preserving the integrity of the S-Anon program, including protecting our copyrights. As such, if any member becomes aware of a copyright violation by a group or individual member, we encourage you to speak up, reminding each other of our commitment to the Twelve Traditions. While the spirit of the Twelve Traditions teaches us that the most powerful commitment to these guidelines is an individual’s willing consent, we also understand that taking the appropriate actions when necessary to protect S-Anon’s copyright is essential. If copyright infringement is not resolved by a discussion, please contact your Area Delegate or Regional Trustee for experience, strength, and hope, or the WSO at [email protected]
Literature Acceptable for Reprint
There are a few reprint exceptions that are pre-approved and acceptable for credited reproduction by S-Anon groups which include the Suggest Meeting Format and Readings, Service Literature, and a few S-Anon writings for publication on local S-Anon websites. All mentioned resources can be found on the Member Site at member.sanon.org. In honor of the Conference Approved Literature (CAL) process and S-Anon’s copyright, S-Anon published literature cannot be altered or modified to any degree except for the Suggested Meeting Format (but not the CAL meeting readings) which can be customized to fit each group’s needs.
Addressing Copyright Violations Outside the Fellowship
If any S-Anon member is made aware of a violation of S-Anon copyright by an entity outside of S-Anon, please contact the WSO as this is best appropriately addressed in conjunction with the Executive Committee and the WSO’s copyright attorney.
If you have additional questions about the appropriate use of S-Anon literature, please contact our Literature Committee at [email protected] Thank you for your service in carrying the message of S-Anon recovery and for helping to keep our S-Anon fellowship protected and healthy.