HOW TO AVOID
You’re putting together your club or district newsletter, and you want to liven it up. It’s tempting to go
online and grab a cartoon or image to use. But if the material is protected under copyright law and you
don’t have permission to use it, you could face legal troubles and the costs that go with them.
Download the updated Community Assessment Tools handbook
for information and tips on how to conduct effective community
assessments. Assessing your community’s strengths, weaknesses,
assets, and needs is an essential first step in planning any effective
service project. By taking the time to analyze your community, you can
determine the best opportunities for service and maximize your club’s
Since 1 July 2019, Rotary exchange rates have been based on the
prevailing market rate as of the first of each month. As a result, future
rates will no longer be publicized to Rotary members. This new method
is the best way to ensure a true exchange rate to all our members
worldwide. If you have questions or concerns, write us at treasury@
rotary.org. Visit the Exchange Rates page for more information.
Basic Education and Literacy Month
15 Nominations are due for the Rotary Alumni Global
Service Award and the Rotary Alumni Association
of the Year Award.
Economic and Community Development Month
1 Nominations are due for the Service Award for a Polio
Free World and the PolioPlus Pioneer Award.
The Rotarian magazine’s annual photo contest is open
for submissions. Entries are due 15 December.
7-13 Rotary Alumni Reconnect Week
Hold an event and invite Rotary program alumni.
24 World Polio Day. Organize a viewing party to watch the
Online Global Update and register your event.
31 Nominations are due for the Service Above Self Award.
A Rotary club in New Zealand recently used several cartoons from
an online stock image company based in England. The club had not
secured a license for the images, however, and soon received a
notice from the company and a demand for licensing fees.
Rotary International staff members have noted an increase in the
number of clubs that say they’ve been contacted about copyright
infringement issues. The consequences of using images or other
items without permission — even just seeking legal advice —
can consume time and resources that clubs would rather devote
to other activities.
Knowing some important points about copyright law can help you
avoid problems and protect your club:
• When your club or district wants to use items such as songs,
poems, illustrations, photographs, videos, charts, or graphs, you
need to get a license or permission from the author beforehand.
This applies to items that are on the web or were created by a
• It’s worth spending some time trying to identify the copyright
owner for any item you want to use for a presentation,
newsletter, or club or district website. If you don’t have
permission from the owner, don’t use it. Consult an attorney
for help determining copyright ownership.
• Some organizations provide public copyright licenses (such as
Creative Commons, which offers international licenses), open
access images, or royalty-free licenses. Paying a small fee to use
an image is preferable to receiving a copyright infringement
• Fair use generally refers to using some copyright material for
a limited and “transformative” purpose, such as to comment
upon, criticize, or parody the work. Fair use is decided case
by case and would not apply to Rotary club activities and
• If you are using a photograph, video, or other recording that
includes a recognizable person or any personal data, you need
written permission from each person (or the parent or guardian
of each child) before you use the material. Arts and copyright
organizations have posted standard releases online that you can
use as templates for a model release.
• Some insurance policies may provide coverage for copyright
infringement. If you are concerned, check with your liability
insurance provider to see if your policy includes this coverage.