When I first joined Al‑Anon, I thought the Seventh Tradition of self-support only related to individual groups and the donations collected when the basket was passed. I have since learned that the Seventh Tradition applies far beyond the group. In fact, Al‑Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. (AFG, Inc.) also follows the tradition of being self-supporting and does not accept funds from outside sources or non-members. That means that AFG, Inc., also known as the World Service Office (WSO), is reliant on member donations and the sale of Al‑Anon Conference Approved Literature (CAL) as its sole sources of income.

What does that mean to me as a member? My support is gratitude in action for what Al‑Anon has given me. Besides supporting the WSO with my individual donations and donations from my group, I can purchase CAL from the WSO or my local Al‑Anon Literature Distribution Center. Additionally, I can help to ensure that Al‑Anon maintains ownership of its copyrights. These copyrights are jeopardized when CAL is posted online, including on social media platforms. When I see pictures of pages from CAL posted on social media or hear CAL read on YouTube videos or podcasts, I, as well as any member of this worldwide fellowship, can report it to the media platform or email WSOLegal@al-anon.org. I do this to protect Al‑Anon’s name and its copyrighted materials so that Al‑Anon will continue to exist for future generations.

Another risk to Al‑Anon’s copyrights and trademarks occurs when sections of our daily readers, pamphlets, or bookmarks are photocopied for sharing with other members or newcomers. Until I started working at the WSO, I didn’t realize this was a copyright infringement.

Furthermore, the responsibility to protect our copyrights extends beyond the United States. In my position as International & Legal Specialist, I protect Al‑Anon by working with service structures in countries outside the World Service Conference to register Al‑Anon’s copyrights and trademarks in each country.

Likewise, in collaboration with the International Coordination Committee, permissions are granted to structures for the translation of CAL into the language of each country, thereby protecting the Al‑Anon copyright. Without this country-by-country process, our Al‑Anon name, copyrights, and trademarks would be at risk.

The descriptive text of Warranty Four in the 2022–2025 Al‑Anon/Alateen Service Manual (P-24/27) v2 states, “It has been said, ‘Al‑Anon is prepared to give away its knowledge and experience—all except the Al‑Anon name itself’” (p. 223). Protecting the Al‑Anon name reflects a vital aspect of self-support.

By Anne P., International & Legal Specialist

The Forum, July 2023

Feel free to reprint this article on your service arm website or newsletter, along with this credit line: Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.