If you are the newsletter editor for your intergroup or service body, if you are reprinting portions of OA’s literature for your group or service body events or website, or if you wish to duplicate digital media, such as a CD or digital audio file, there are some things you need to know about copyright.
All OA literature, including digital media, and the OA logo are protected under US copyright law, and that copyright is owned solely by Overeaters Anonymous, Inc.
No one, including OA members or service bodies, can legally reprint or reproduce digital media or excerpts from OA literature without written permission from the World Service Office. (There are some exceptions, which will be discussed later in this article.)
OA literature is the main source of revenue for our Fellowship. Respecting OA’s copyright is a way of guarding our Seventh Tradition of self-support. Developing literature is one way that we fulfill OA’s primary purpose—to carry the message of recovery to the suffering compulsive overeater.
When service bodies reprint literature at will, thus denying revenue to the Fellowship through literature sales, they make it difficult for OA as a whole to fulfill its Seventh-Tradition directive.
It is also important that the corporation of Overeaters Anonymous keeps records that show it is actively protecting its copyrights. This action protects the corporation’s interests in court should a conflict regarding copyright infringement arise.
In an effort to ease the paperwork burden on OA groups and service bodies, OA’s copyright policy is now as follows:
All registered OA groups and service bodies have permission to reprint any OA material currently on the OA website (downloadable PDF files or text) without having to submit a written request to the WSO. The materials listed below may also be reprinted without written permission:
- The Twelve Steps of OA
- The Twelve Traditions of OA
- The Twelve Concepts of OA Service
- The OA Preamble
- I Put My Hand in Yours promise
- The Responsibility Pledge
- Fifteen Questions
- About OA (flyer)
- “Welcome Home” from the Lifeline Sampler, pp. 173-174
It is requested that those using the above material credit the source and Overeaters Anonymous, Inc., as the holder of the copyright.
Other materials not requiring written reprint permission from the WSO are:
- OA service bodies may reprint articles from A Step Ahead, the Courier and the no-longer-published WSO Notebook without permission as long as credit is given (e.g., “From A Step Ahead, Fall 1996. Copyright 1996 by Overeaters Anonymous, Inc.”).
- Individual Lifeline articles may be reprinted by registered OA service bodies for limited personal and group use. They may not be revised, recombined into other publications or resold. All other uses require written permission from Overeaters Anonymous, Inc.
- Many well-known slogans and sayings (such as “one day at a time,” “easy does it” and the Serenity Prayer) require no approval.
Registered groups and service bodies wishing to create a lending library of digital media may request permission to duplicate a CD or digital file using the reprint request procedures below. Approval will allow the service body to keep one master recording and one copy to lend out to members.
Recordings sold by WSO or its designated vendor, including recordings created at World Service Business Conference and World Service Convention or sold via the OA bookstore, whether on CD or in other formats may not be duplicated and distributed via website or other media, except the case of radio and television public service announcements, which may be duplicated without written permission for public information purposes.
The procedure for obtaining permission to reprint is as follows:
- Contact the WSO Publications Department for a Reprint Request Permission form or a Request for Permission to Use the OA Logo form. You may also obtain these forms by downloading the PDF files below. Only requests submitted by post or fax can be accepted because we need an original signature on the form.
- Complete the form(s), making sure the material you want to reprint is quoted accurately. If you are requesting to reprint the Steps, Traditions and Concepts monthly in your newsletter, you may submit one form to receive permission for the year.
- USING THE OA LOGO: If you are requesting permission to use the logo, include a mock-up of how it will appear on your materials. NOTE: The policy for using the logo stipulates that your service body’s name be printed directly beneath the OA logo to distinguish it from material originating from the WSO. Any registered OA service body (intergroup, NSB, LSB and region) may apply for blanket permission to use the OA logo on any of its flyers, posters, newsletters, meeting lists, Web sites, stationery, and business cards for a two-year period from the date that permission is granted under the conditions stated on the permission form. The service body must submit a separate request for other uses to be considered. It will be the responsibility of the service body to renew its logo permission after the expiration date. The World Service Office will periodically send reminders to all service bodies to renew.
- Allow 10 working days for approval. Requests are reviewed by the Publications Department, a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees and the managing director of the WSO. Please allow enough time in your production schedule to get your material approved. You might want to plan the use of OA-copyrighted material several months in advance of the actual issues.
- You will receive the form back from the WSO affixed with the managing director’s signature, indicating that permission has been granted. Remember to cite the source in your material. When you have received permission, submit a copy of the document to the WSO after it has been printed.
Keep in mind that copyright laws apply to all literature, whether or not you see a copyright notice. Duplicating literature from other sources, including Alcoholics Anonymous, also requires permission. If you wish to print an excerpt from AA literature, write to Alcoholics Anonymous, General Service Office, Box 459, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163 USA, or call them at 212-870-3400.
One of the most common copyright violations is the reprinting of popular newspaper comic strips without obtaining permission from the newspaper syndicate. Printing comic strips or excerpts from outside literature may also violate Tradition Six. Before using material from an outside enterprise, consider what message is being sent. Will reprinting this material imply that OA is endorsing or affiliating with the author, the enterprise or the ideas contained within?
If you are a newsletter editor, one of your biggest challenges is seeking out and printing original work. Ask members to submit program-related stories, poems and cartoons. More members can then have a hand in creating their publication and using it as a forum for sharing.
While it may be an inconvenient extra step to comply with OA’s copyright policies, when you do, you are supporting OA’s service to the entire Fellowship and carrying the message of recovery to compulsive overeaters who continue to suffer.
Copyright Dates for OA Literature
How do you know if you and your group are reading current OA literature? Use the new OA Literature List by Copyright Date/Revision Date to review and maintain your OA library. OA pamphlets and books are scrutinized regularly and updated as needed to reflect current OA philosophy and policies. Outdated literature is misleading, especially for newcomers.
To check, look for the copyright date on the back cover of the pamphlet or on the copyright page within the first two pages of the book. Then compare that date to the one on the list. If there has been an update since the last comprehensive revision, a pamphlet may show a revise date. In those cases, the revision date indicates the most recent publication.