The G.S.O. Archives collection’s sound and moving image recordings include productions by the G.S.O., individual A.A. members, and friends of A.A.  The sound recordings include conferences, meetings, and other special events; speeches by Bill W. and other early A.A. pioneers; oral history interviews; and more.  These recordings have great significance to the history of Alcoholics Anonymous, and help carry the message of the Fellowship of A.A.  

For any researcher, we will endeavor to provide access to these historical materials.  However, we are bound by several factors that may limit our ability to provide access or permitted copy of a recording when requested.   In most cases the General Service Office does not hold copyright for the recordings.  Many of the items are unique and in some cases the Archives retains the only known copy.  In addition, many recordings reveal A.A. members’ identities or contain other sensitive content.  Because of the one-of-a-kind nature of these items and the Archives Department’s commitment to A.A.’s guiding principles, the following policies and restrictions apply to their duplication and use.

Procedures for Use

Researchers wishing to learn about our holdings, or wishing to listen to specific sound recordings or view archival film recordings should first contact the archives by mail, phone, or email.  Each request will be considered individually.  Depending on the needs of the researcher and the types of materials requested, a researcher may have to establish approval with the trustees’ Archives Committee before being given access to the materials.  The trustees’ Archives Committee meets to decide on these requests three times each year. In special cases, consideration can be obtained at other times.  If the request requires this approval, the archivists will direct the user through the application process.  

Archives staff may have to view and/or listen to recordings to determine subject content and/or suitability for outside distribution and duplication, paying particular attention to issues of anonymity.  This service is simply a preliminary listening/viewing to determine content, and no transcription will result.  If the user requires a transcription, this will be done by a professional transcription service and additional charges may apply.

Given our limited staff resources, we ask researchers to restrict their requests for duplication to a reasonable quantity of material.  The Archives Department reserves the right to impose limits on the amount of material that can be requested at any given time and by any one individual.  In most cases, due to staff resources and copyright restrictions, a limit of one copy per item per request will be imposed. Duplication requests will be filled in a timely manner based on staff responsibilities.  If a separate vendor must be engaged to make a copy, the charge will be passed on to the researcher at cost.  Note that certain formats cannot be duplicated because of a lack of compatible duplication equipment.  

If visiting the Archives, researchers also must make prior arrangements with the Archives so that proper playback and listening equipment can be made available.  

Duplication Restrictions

Assuming access is permitted, the Archives Department reserves the right to restrict duplication due to concerns of copyright, anonymity, condition, or donor restrictions and policy determinations recommended by the General Service Conference and adopted by the General Service Board through its committee process. 


•    Copyright

If the Archives staff has any reason to believe that duplicating a videotape or sound recording will violate U.S. Copyright Law, they will refuse the request.

The person requesting the reproduction assumes all responsibility for infraction of copyright, or any use that exceeds fair use provisions.  Any commercial application, publication or distribution by rental, lease, or lending of copyrighted materials is not fair use and always requires the consent of the copyright holder. This includes but is not limited to distributing CD or DVD copies, streaming, uploading or posting on the Internet. Permission to reproduce does not constitute permission to publish – see below for publication restrictions. For further information about copyright, consult the U.S. Copyright Office: www.copyright.gov.

•   Anonymity

Users are restricted by A.A’s 11th and 12th traditions on anonymity from revealing the name of any A.A. member(s), living or deceased.  At the level of the public media, such individuals, including the co-founders and other A.A. pioneers, must remain anonymous under all circumstances.  If applicable the Archives will require users to commit in writing to preserving A.A. members’ identities from disclosure.

•    Condition

Sound and video recording media (VHS tapes, cassettes, etc.) are typically fragile, and degrade quickly.  Frequent use quickens this deterioration.  The Archives Department will always act to ensure the survival of its audio recordings, and may deny any request that could not be granted without damaging the original recording.  

•    Donor Restrictions 

Some donors of audio or video material may have imposed restrictions on access as a condition of the donor agreement. These will always be respected. 

•     General Service Conference Audio Recording Policy

Access to audio recordings of A.A.’s annual General Service Conference is in accordance with a 2015 General Service Conference Advisory Action:

Audio recordings of General Service Conference presentations published in the General Service Conference Final Report and audio recordings of the trustees’ farewell talks given at the closing brunch be made available in accordance with Archives’ Policies. Access to all other General Service Conference sessions will continue to be prohibited.


Distribution and Publication Restrictions 

Permission to access our materials and have copies made does not signify that a researcher has been given permission to publish or further copy the material.  Users will not be permitted to make additional copies of sound recordings or videos for sale or widespread distribution. It is the users’ responsibility to secure all necessary permissions from the copyright owner before making commercial, broadcast, or other use of this material.  Refer to section on “Copyright” above.  

The Archives Department restricts use of its recordings in television, video, motion picture, and all other media productions, including posting on the Internet.  For use in these media, when we own the copyright, separate permission must be obtained from A.A.W.S.  The archivist can assist you in making your request to the right staff.

It is solely the responsibility of the researcher to obtain the permission of the copyright owner before publishing any previously unpublished material.  In many cases neither A.A.W.S. nor the General Service Board holds copyright for the audiovisual materials in its collections.  Permission to publish sound recordings or moving images from the collection must be obtained from the copyright owner. 



The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be used for any purpose than private study, scholarship or research. If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use", that user may be liable for copyright infringement and/or subject to criminal prosecution.

Revised: August 2015


Click here to print a copy of the application form, or submit your application online using the electronic form below.



By signing below, I signify that I have read and understood the “SOUND AND MOVING IMAGE ACCESS POLICIES AND PROCEDURES.” I understand that if I do not adhere to these policies, my privileges as a user of the G.S.O. Archives may be revoked.


I acknowledge that I will be receiving one copy of the following recording, in digital format, on CD/DVD:






Due to copyright restrictions, as specified in the “SOUND AND MOVING IMAGE ACCESS POLICIES AND PROCEDURES,” I agree that the recording I receive will not be published in any medium, nor posted on the Internet, nor otherwise distributed or copied further.


I acknowledge and agree that an essential condition of the permission granted to me is that I will abide by the anonymity policy. I will not identify any member of A.A., including its co-founders, other than by the first name and first initial of the last name. I agree that any publication of full names at the level of press and media is a breach of this agreement.








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