By the time I came to Al‑Anon, I had given away so much of myself that I wasn’t even sure who I was anymore. I had forfeited my time, interests, needs, and self-worth, all in feeble efforts to please the alcoholics and others in my life. I learned in Al‑Anon that I have value and worth, and that I need to protect myself by setting limits and boundaries.
I have grown to understand that, just as I now have personal boundaries for my protection, Al‑Anon has boundaries to maintain its identity as a fellowship. We safeguard one of Al‑Anon’s valuable resources, Conference Approved Literature, by following copyright laws.
The Twelfth Step encourages us to “carry this message to others.” Copyrights help ensure that Al‑Anon owns the documents and that the message is accurate. They help prevent the possibility of distortion or dilution. Requiring permission to reprint verifies the accuracy of Al‑Anon literature, as well as the context in which it will be used. Without such verification, mistakes can happen. Misquotes or quotations taken out of context could give misleading impressions about Al‑Anon.
In accordance with our Al‑Anon/Alateen Service Manual (P-24/27), the World Service Office can only grant permission for “limited excerpts”—usually a paragraph or less. Members and others can obtain permission by submitting the “Request for Permission to Reprint” form. As the Manual states, “Permission to reprint extensively from our publications is not granted in the United States and Canada to any individuals, within or outside of our membership, or to any outside agency.”
The one exception to this policy is that Al-Anon members may copy or post Conference Approved Literature (and The Forum) for use during Al‑ Anon/Alateen meetings or workshops without obtaining written permission, provided they do so for a one-time use (such as for a meeting topic), the photocopy or post is limited in scope to content possible to be shared and discussed during one meeting, the material is not for sale or distribution beyond the group, and electronic postings do not persist beyond the timeframe of the meeting. When doing so, please include the following credit line: “From [title of book or pamphlet], copyright 20__, by Al‑Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. One-time reprint permission granted by Al‑Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.”
Copyright law also extends to the internet. Areas, Districts, Al‑Anon Information Services, Literature Distribution Centers, and individuals do not have permission to post Conference Approved Literature on their websites.
Written permission is not necessary for Al‑Anon/Alateen service arms to excerpt items of interest from In the Loop, Alateen Talk, the “Inside Al‑Anon Family Groups” section of The Forum, or other service tools for inclusion in Al‑Anon newsletters or on websites, provided a credit line is given. In fact, to help spread information, these items may be photocopied or posted in their entirety by anyone. Likewise, three articles from The Forum are designated each month for reprinting in service arm newsletters or on websites, along with the credit line. They are also posted on al‑anon.org.
Let’s continue to carry our message of hope to families and friends of alcoholics by preserving and protecting the precious resources found in Al‑Anon’s copyright-protected Conference Approved Literature.
By Tom C., Associate Director—Literature
The Forum, July 2017 [updated June 2022]
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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.