Content Use Policy
Last Updated: June 16, 2023.
GUIDELINES FOR USE OF A.A.W.S. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL
A.A.W.S. copyrights are held in trust for A.A. as a whole. A.A.W.S. has a responsibility to protect these valuable A.A. assets both in terms of content and preserving the integrity of the A.A. message. In order to meet this responsibility, A.A.W.S. must ensure that A.A.'s copyrights remain undiminished by infringing activities. Further, as a practical matter, and in order to meet such responsibility, blanket or non-specific permission is not granted.
Any request that does not fit within the parameters of the listed conditions and guidelines should be directed to the General Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous. Contact IP Policy to obtain a “Request for Permission to Reprint” form.
Some uses of A.A. copyrighted literature and other copyrighted A.A. materials are allowed by A.A.W.S. if the following conditions are met:
- Use must be for non-fiction commentary, news reporting, parody, summarization or similar. For use in creative/fiction writing, please submit a completed “Request for Permission to Reprint” form.
- Use must be on a one-time basis only and not replace a sale of the work or diminish the market for, or value of the work.
These usages are not allowed:
- Must not be used for novelty items such as bumper stickers, t-shirts, mugs, greeting cards, etc. as these types of items tend to trivialize the A.A. program.
- Use must not be commercial (i.e., not for sale) or used in any type of advertising.
Guidelines and Limitations for acceptable use of A.A. Copyrighted Literature and other copyrighted A.A. material:
- Individual printing or photocopying of a brief excerpt of A.A. literature and/or A.A. material.
- A single reproduction of a brief excerpt of audio DVDs, CDs, etc. or video works, e.g. film, film clips, public service announcements/PSAs, etc. (up to 10% of the total work or three minutes, whichever is less.)
- Individual printing or photocopying of a brief excerpt of printed A.A. literature and/or A.A. material from the A.A. Website or App.
- A single reproduction of a brief portion of audio DVDs, CDs, etc. or video works, e.g. film, film clips, public service announcements/PSAs, etc. (up to 10% of the total work or three minutes, whichever is less) from the A.A. Website or App.
- Saving A.A.W.S. literature or other A.A. material on a computer hard drive.
- Any use of A.A.W.S. copyrighted material exceeding a brief excerpt or brief portion, as provided above, must not be posted or/uploaded to any website, online discussion boards or any social media formats, whether A.A. or non-A.A., without written permission from A.A.W.S.
When Is Permission Required?
- When an individual intends to use the material repeatedly.
- When the material is intended to be used for commercial purposes.
- When an individual wants to use a work in its entirety.
No permission to reprint need be submitted to A.A.W.S. if all of the following conditions and guidelines are met:
- Text of A.A.W.S. copyrighted literature shall be presented as-is, with no amendments, changes or editing permitted.
- An educator may make one copy of the following items for purposes of scholarly research, or for use in teaching or preparing to teach a class: one chapter from a book, one article from a periodical, one short essay, one chart/graph (unless otherwise noted). Copying shall not be used to create, replace, or substitute for anthologies, compilations or collective works.
- An educator may make multiple copies of A.A. material, not to exceed more than one copy per pupil in the course, provided the amount of material copied is sufficiently brief. Each copy should include the following notice of copyright:
This photocopy was reproduced with the permission of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. (A.A.W.S.) for inclusion in a course package. Permission to photocopy this material does not mean that A.A.W.S. has reviewed or approved the contents of this course package, or that A.A. necessarily agrees with the views expressed herein.
- Educators are permitted to provide web links to A.A. material on the A.A. Website.
The A.A. Service Manual in the sections “Area Newsletter or Bulletins” provides guidance to A.A. entities regarding the reprinting of Alcoholics Anonymous copyrighted material. The section states:
“Local A.A. publications are permitted to reprint the Steps, Traditions, and/or the Concepts, and to quote a phrase, sentence or brief paragraph excerpted from A.A. literature such as the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, The A.A. Service Manual and Conference-approved pamphlets without a prior, written request to do so. When this occurs, the proper credit line should be included to ensure that the copyrights of A.A. literature are protected. After a quotation from a book or pamphlet, the credit line should read: Reprinted from (name of publication, page number), with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.”
D. THE BLUE PEOPLE ®
The Blue People graphic is a copyrighted design and registered trademark of A.A.W.S., Inc., with all rights reserved for use exclusively by the A.A.W.S. Board, AA Grapevine Board, the General Service Board of U.S./Canada, and General Service Office of U.S./Canada.
E. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Additional information regarding what material can and cannot be used within the A.A. Fellowship that would not constitute an infringement of A.A.’s copyrighted material is provided in the following Frequently Asked Questions:
Who owns the copyrights to A.A. Conference-approved literature?
A.A.W.S. holds the copyrights of A.A. material in trust for A.A. as a whole.
Do we have to formally request permission to reprint A.A. literature?
As a general rule no one has the authority to reproduce A.A. Conference-approved literature without prior written permission from A.A.W.S. However, given the nature of our Fellowship, our experience indicates that A.A. groups and entities, and only A.A. groups and entities, should have the authority to reproduce limited amounts of A.A. Conference-approved material. In no case should this material be amended or modified.
Can we upload an A.A. Conference-approved book or pamphlet to our local A.A. Website?
A.A. entities are permitted to provide web links to A.A. Conference-approved literature on www.aa.org instead of uploading.
Can we print a copy of A.A. material from www.aa.org?
If the material is in HTML, it can be printed. Some PDFs, including most service material, may also be printed.
Can we include brief excerpts from A.A. material in a mobile app?
Permission to reprint A.A. material must be obtained by contacting the Publishing Department at IP Policy. Additionally A.A. material should represent only a small segment of material in App.
Can we obtain a license from A.A. to include an entire publication in a mobile app?
No, A.A.W.S. does not issue licenses to reproduce its copyrighted material on mobile apps, etc.
Can you give us a few other examples of requests for which GSO does not grant permission?
A.A.W.S. does not grant permission to reprint A.A. material on novelty items such as bumper stickers, t-shirts, mugs, greeting cards, etc., as these types of items tend to trivialize the A.A. program.
What is the copyright status of the Big Book?
The First and Second Editions of the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, are in the public domain in the United States only. The Third and Fourth Editions remain copyright protected worldwide, including the United States. Given that the Internet is a worldwide medium, permission must be requested from A.A.W.S. for all Internet postings of all editions of the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous.
Can I reprint excerpts on a daily basis from A.A. material and distribute them electronically?
A.A.W.S. does not grant permission for anyone to continuously reprint excerpts of A.A. material through the Internet or electronic devices, etc.
Do I need permission to reprint the Serenity Prayer and the St. Francis Prayer?
As the Serenity Prayer and the St. Francis Prayer are not copyrighted by A.A.W.S., A.A.W.S. cannot grant or deny reprint permission.
Where can I find information regarding the use of A.A.’s trademarks?
On the A.A. Website, www.aa.org, in the section entitled “Intellectual Property Policies ” and see in The A.A. Service Manual, under the section entitled “Trademarks, Logos, and Copyrights.”
Can we use the “blue people” graphic from the home page of www.aa.org on our local A.A. website?
The Blue People graphic is a copyrighted design and registered trademark of A.A.W.S., Inc., with all rights reserved for use exclusively by the A.A.W.S. Board, AA Grapevine Board, the General Service Board of U.S./Canada, and General Service Office of U.S./Canada. Therefore, A.A.W.S., Inc. does not grant permission to use the Blue People to any other A.A. entity and/or to create a derivative of The Blue People for any use.
Can A.A. entities use pamphlet cover graphics?
Yes, A.A. entities have permission to reprint thumbnail or larger-sized graphics of A.A. pamphlet covers for A.A. purposes only. Place the copyright symbol © next to the graphic and include the following credit line: The above graphic is [graphics are] used with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.
If your specific concern is not addressed in this A.A.W.S. Fair Use Guidelines, you may wish to direct your question to the GSO Intellectual Properties desk.
For information on A.A. Grapevine’s Copyright and Reprint Policy, see The A.A. Service Manual, under the section entitled “General Guidelines for Reprinting Art and Articles from the A.A. Grapevine,” or www.aagrapevine.org/copyright-and-reprints-policy.
A.A.W.S. Inc., Policy on GSO's A.A. Website and the App
The purpose of the Website is:
- To serve the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.
- To serve as a resource for A.A. members, those seeking help from A.A., professionals working with alcoholics, the media, and the public at large.
- To provide accurate and consistent information about Alcoholics Anonymous.
- To provide information about services coordinated by the General Service Office.
- To encourage participation of A.A. members, groups and committees in A.A. services and activities.
The purpose of the App is:
- To serve the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.
- To serve as a resource for A.A. members, those seeking help from A.A., and the public at large.
- To relay Meeting Information (defined below) and information about events and resources from Third-Party Service Entities (defined below).
- To encourage participation of A.A. members, groups and committees in A.A. services and activities.
- Oversight of the Website and App, including new releases of apps, websites or any other additional GSO technology, will be the responsibility of the Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Board (A.A.W.S.), acting through its Technology/Communication/Services Committee and in accordance with the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous.
- A.A.W.S. will provide both annual and quarterly reports regarding Website activity to the trustees’ Committee on Public Information (P.I.).*
- The Website will provide, whenever practical, information in three languages: English, French, and Spanish.
- The Website will make use of existing A.A. materials whenever practical.
- The Website will provide contact information to General Service Conference Areas by listing and linking to existing websites.
- The Website will provide contact information and assistance by including a list of Intergroup/Central Offices and Answering Services in the U.S. and Canada, international General Service Offices, and online intergroups, including website and email links where applicable.
- The Website and App will include a disclaimer before linking to any external web page or page containing information independently provided by third parties.
- The Website will include selected Archives information and material.
- The Website will welcome visitors to make suggestions about the Website design and content.
- The App will sync with area, district, Intergroup/Central Offices and International General Service Office websites to relay meeting information from A.A. service entities (“Third-Party Service Entities”) directly to users. All meeting descriptions, addresses, phone numbers, policies, and providers (collectively, “Meeting Information”) displayed on the App are voluntarily provided by Third-Party Service Entities. Meeting Information is not independently verified by A.A.W.S.
- Any use of the App constitutes a Third-Party Service Entity’s agreement to provide A.A.W.S. and App users with accurate, complete, and updated Meeting Information. Failure to do so may result in immediate suspension or termination of the Third-Party Service Entity’s account. In addition, A.A.W.S. reserves the right to refuse, suspend, or terminate a Third-Party Service Entity’s account or use of the App for any reason and in A.A.W. S’s sole discretion.
- Any use of the App constitutes the user’s agreement that all use of and reliance on Meeting Information provided by third parties is at the user’s own risk and that A.A.W.S. will not be held liable for any errors, omissions, disinformation, or misinformation contained therein. Although Meeting Information is provided by sources believed to be reliable, no warranty, express or implied, is made regarding accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of any Meeting Information. Users may suggest additions or corrections to meeting listings by using links provided within the app to contact the local service entity responsible for the Meeting Information.
- This Policy will be reviewed annually by the A.A.W.S. Board of Directors.
* As per 2004 Conference Advisory Action (Public Information Committee)
Rights and Obligations of Third-Party Service Entities:
All information, including Meeting Information, provided by Third-Party Service Entities must meet the guidelines outlined in all applicable policies and terms, including these Terms.
Third-Party Service Entities must provide accurate Meeting Information, including geolocation, and must not manipulate Meeting Information in any way.
Third-Party Service Entities must not bypass any existing functionality used by the App to ensure data integrity.
Third-Party Service Entities agree to work with other relevant entities to ensure that the main point of contact for a meeting location is the primary contact in the App.
Access granted to a Third-Party Service Entity for any reason, such as for the purpose of updating information, is strictly limited to use by the Third-Party Service Entity for which the access was specifically granted.
The Third-Party Service Entity warrants that it is the owner and has the necessary rights or appropriate permissions to provide the Meeting Information and/or other information provided on the App or to A.A.W.S. directly.
The Third-Party Service Entity will provide A.A.W.S. with accurate contact information in order to settle any queries or issues related to the information provided.
The Third-Party Service Entity will provide A.A.W.S. with access to all information provided in a suitable format as described in the A.A.W.S. specifications and documentation.
Should the Third-Party Service Entity become aware of any malfunctions, errors, or omissions, it will diligently inform A.A.W.S.
The Third-Party Service Entity acknowledges that the Meeting Information or other information provided does not contain any malicious source-code that may adversely affect, alter, damage or destroy the proper functioning of any software, operating system and/or hardware, including but not limited to viruses, trojan horse ransomware, back doors, and spy software.
The Third-Party Service Entity shall inform A.A.W.S. should the Third-Party Service Entity become aware that the information provided does not comply with applicable laws or regulations, such as privacy-related regulations.
Third-Party Service Entities will make reasonable efforts to ensure that the information provided is as accurate and up to date as possible.
A.A.W.S. reserves the right to disconnect any Third-Party Service Entity that does not adhere to these guidelines or misuses or manipulates the App in violation of these Terms.
Intellectual Property Policies
A.A.W.S. holds numerous copyrights in trust for A.A. as a whole in the many written works, videos, cassettes, CDs, and other materials produced and published by A.A.W.S. both in English, as well as in other languages.
Generally, A.A.W.S. limits licensees for the publication and distribution of A.A. literature, to General Service Offices (GSOs) in other countries and literature committees around the world. The “Current Conference Charter” provides guidance in the matter: “In countries where a General Service Structure exists, the United States/Canada Conference will delegate sole right to publish our Conference-approved literature to the General Service Board of the structure.”
Our reprint policy, however, is different from our licensing policy. As stated in The A.A. Service Manual: “Local A.A. publications are permitted to quote a phrase, sentence or brief paragraph excerpted from A.A. literature such as The Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, The A.A. Service Manual and Conference-approved pamphlets without a prior, written request to do so…, (accompanied by a credit line (that) should read: Reprinted from (name of publication, page number), with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.)” Non-A.A. individuals and entities may not reprint A.A. copyrighted materials without prior approval granted pursuant to a written request. Please send your request to reprint A.A.W.S. material to firstname.lastname@example.org
Trademarks and Logos
A.A. World Services and the Grapevine have registered a number of trademarks and logos, and the guidelines for using them are based partly on legal considerations and partly on the nature of A.A.
The following is a complete list of registered trademarks and service marks that symbolize Alcoholics Anonymous, its work and its purpose: A.A.; Alcoholics Anonymous; The Big Book; Box 4-5-9; The Grapevine; A.A. Grapevine; GV; Box 1980, La Viña.
Use of these marks on goods or services that do not emanate from A.A. and have not been approved by A.A., both infringes upon and dilutes A.A. marks, in legal terms. The resulting harm is that the marks and A.A. itself, since A.A. is what the marks symbolize, will come to be associated with a variety of products and services that are not part of A.A., and are not consistent with A.A.’s purpose. This will cause the marks to lose their meaning and significance as symbols of Alcoholics Anonymous.