The Big Book is in the public domain. Therefore when Amazon sells it Amazon gets the money not World Services.
After much study and research I have concluded this article I found online is the best one on the topic of The Big Book, it’s profits, and it’s copyright laws. Editions One & Two are in the public domain. That’s why Amazon and other book manufacturers are selling it at full profit. Meaning AA gets nothing from the sales. There are a few theories as to why AA failed to renew it’s copyrights. Read the article.
Is the Big Book Shrinking?
By Meg Williams 07/09/13
The Big Book remains the place to find AA’s program of recovery. But thanks to competing publishers and free apps, literature revenues are falling. Is there anything World Services can do?
Will AA’s publishing revenues soon become small beer? Photo via
When the 63rd General Service Conference of Alcoholics Anonymous met this April, the delegates representing AA groups from the US and Canada passed a motion to allow AA World Services (AAWS) to “use commissioned online stores to sell and distribute digital AA literature.”
AA literature is already widely available on the web. This includes the AA website’s links to the current edition of Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. But other vendors also publish editions of the Big Book online, downloadable for free or for a nominal charge. At this point, AAWS has already lost considerable business to these other publishers. Many would ask, “Why is AA allowing this?” The answer: AA has no legal recourse to stop it.
Individual AA members must choose whom to pay for the Big Book, if they choose to pay at all.
The first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous has been public domain since 1967, when AA failed to renew its copyright on the text. AA also failed to renew the copyright on the second edition, causing it to lapse in 1983. In both cases, most sources say that AAWS failed to act simply because of a lack of understanding of the applicable copyright laws.
Of course, other theories have been proposed. Some suggest that AA let the copyright lapse to dodge any liability resulting from the fact that Bill Wilson claimed he was the only author at the time the Big Book was first copyrighted. (Other people are known to have written portions of the book, including “To Employers” and “The Doctor’s Opinion,” for example.) Moving these works into public domain then re-copyrighting the third edition and not claiming that Bill Wilson was the only author would prevent anyone from suing AA over the original copyright. These same sources add that AA’s General Service Office (GSO) claimed to misunderstood the law in order to hide its true motives. This theory needs to be qualified by saying that these sources seem to have a bone to pick with AA in general. They present evidence to support their claims; however, it is very difficult to confirm its veracity, due to the lack of documentation available to the public from the AA’s service structures.
Whatever its reasons, this apparent oversight has caused a considerable headache for AAWS and the GSO as a whole, because a large part of their budget comes from literature sales. The projected net income from sales for the year of 2013 was $7,782,800. This figure represents profits after subtracting all costs for royalties, manufacturing and shipping. This money was expected to cover 54% of GSO’s expenses for 2013. The 2013 gross income was budgeted at $95,000 less than 2012—showing a decline in sales, though not a steep one. GSO hoped to compensate by reducing production and distribution costs in order to increase the profit margin.
Although the current laws would have extended the copyright until at least 2021, AAWS must adhere to the laws that were in place when the first and second editions were published. The applicable law, the 1909 Copyright Act, dictates that copyrights must be renewed in writing after 30 years. International copyright laws, on the other…read more at “The Fix”
I validated the claims of this article by researching all day. Here are some of the verifications.
http://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/fair-use-policy What happened to the triangle in the circle?