COPYRIGHTED LITERATURE – Copying literature for distribution

The comments below were given by various members of the Conference Steps, Traditions, and Concepts Committee and do not represent a group conscience of the entire committee. The opinions expressed here are solely that of the person giving them. Take what you like and leave the rest.

The Question:
What Tradition supports using a copyright to ban or limit the excerpting and adapting of Conference Approved Materials as a means of reaching the still suffering addict, when these materials were created by the Fellowship, for the Fellowship?

This issue is governed by the Fourth Tradition, which states that each group should be autonomous, except in matters affecting other groups or S.L.A.A. as a whole. By publishing anything but brief excerpts from our literature, especially the content of an entire pamphlet or chapter of the Basic Text, the income to Fellowship Wide Services is jeopardized. The price of pamphlets supports the printing of pamphlets and other literature, which are important tools for carrying the message of recovery of S.L.A.A. to others. It would be much better for the local website to provide a link or the web address of FWS for information on specific pieces of literature or suggest that inquirers attend a meeting to obtain literature.

At this time contributions from the Fellowship fall far short of the cash needed to keep the FWS office staffed and open. Therefore, sale of literature, tapes and CDs, chips, etc are necessary to meet this shortfall. If our copyrighted literature is available at no cost then the FWS office would have to cut even more services and it would not be long before there would be no FWS office at all. So, this is my roundabout way to say that the Traditions at issue here are; Tradition One, “Our common welfare should come first. Personal recovery depends upon S.L.A.A. unity.” Tradition Seven, “Every S.L.A.A. group (and this includes FWS) and the Fellowship as a whole, ought to be fully self-supporting declining outside contributions.”

Tradition 1 – “Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon S.L.A.A. unity.” In this case the group is not looking out for the common welfare of the Program, since they are giving away that which others of us spend our Tradition 7 funds to purchase for distribution at meetings. It would seem that this would circumvent one of the means of raising operating funds for FWS. This would have a negative effect on the program since the funds would not be available to provide services to the Fellowship and the still suffering sex and love addict. Tradition 7 would also be compromised since we are expected be fully self-supporting. Tradition 6 could also come into play with this situation since if a group or and Intergroup were to offer the pamphlets via the internet, then we open the door for treatment facilities to also download and offer the pamphlets through their websites, which could appear to be an endorsement or affiliation. I can see a way where this could be done in a much more acceptable manner if the Intergroup in question were to purchase pamphlets and make them available by mail to the prospective member upon request, and then there would seem to be no violation of any Tradition. This would be upheld in Traditions, 4, 5 and 11. In this case the Intergroup or individual group would be choosing an alternate method of getting the message of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous out to the still suffering addict.

To me the Fifth Tradition states that we should, whenever possible, spread the message of 12 Step recoveries to those who still suffer so that there should be as little obstruction between the addict and the message of recovery. In my area, we give the pamphlets freely to anyone who wishes to have one; however the groups pay for them and comply with the copyright owned by FWS. We cannot accept the cost of printing and shipping of the pamphlets as a gift from outside the Fellowship. FWS is dependent on contributions from the membership and reimbursement of costs for pamphlets. Therefore, it is reasonable to me that there are restrictions in the use of Conference approved literature. No one speaks for S.L.A.A; therefore, the copyright is not to restrict ideas. It is intended to avoid controversy and endorsement of anything outside of S.L.A.A. recovery. Using copyrighted material as the Fellowship’s opinion or endorsement of anything would put us at risk of controversy and should be avoided. The Fourth Tradition is also intended to allow anyone or group to act autonomously without implying the endorsement of FWS or the Fellowship as a whole.

The part that keeps getting in the way for me is if it’s a “free” pamphlet, FWS isn’t losing money.
If this discussion is for the free pamphlets only, our offer is that the Intergroup put a link to the S.LA.A. FWS website pages, where the free pamphlets are offered. The purpose for this is to control our copyrighted literature. We are not trying to limit use of the free pamphlets, we are only trying to limit where this copyrighted material is available. If changes to the free pamphlets are needed for whatever reason we can make those changes at a single location.


What do you think?
The CSTCC is a group of volunteers, some of whom were ABM delegates, and others who volunteered out of interest. We do not represent a group conscience of S.L.A.A., but are committed to bringing thoughtful discussion and study of 12 Step Fellowship literature and experience to the questions that are brought to us. We offer this summary as the results of our discussions. We present the major points of concern in the hopes that wider discussion in the Fellowship will help us evolve our customs and practice of the S.L.A.A. program of recovery to better represent the loving guidance of a Higher Power. Always, we affirm the autonomy of each group and the need for each individual to follow her/his own conscience. No decision of this group, or any other, is ever forced upon another, even when we believe a practice is clearly in conflict with the Steps, Traditions, or Concepts.