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Copyrighted material - a pretty sticky subject, even for lawyers.  The following is a layman's interpretation of practical observance of copyright law when using BSA and other materials.

In general, as BSA volunteers, we can use BSA logos and materials for Scouting purposes.  An Eagle Court of Honor certainly qualifies.  Typically nothing is reproduced for sale, and nothing of value is given away.  The complexities arise when you involve third parties and copyrighted non-BSA materials.

The Cake:  Suppose you imagine a big, beautiful cake with a reproduction of the Eagle Scout medal on it.  Can you do that?  If you ask a bakery to reproduce the image of the medal, they will possibly, and very correctly, refuse to do so because they recognize that they are not licensed to reproduce BSA materials without permission.  How do you get permission?  It's really pretty simple.  Contact your local council office and ask to speak to the council executive, the director of development, or any of the senior council executives.  They have the authority (according to the director of development in my council) to authorize use of the BSA logos for Scouting purposes.  On their authority, the bakery should be comfortable with proceeding to bake.

The Invitations and Programs:  If you buy these from the Scout Shop, you are using them as they are intended to be used.  If you print them yourself, you are a Scouting volunteer using materials for Scouting purposes, and can proceed.  If you are having them printed by a printer, then use the procedures above as described for the cake.

Photos, Music, etc.:  If you took the photos, then you are the copyright owner.  If someone in your troop took them, presumably they have given them to you for whatever purpose you wish.  If you grab photos off the web or music off a CD, now you have to give some thoughts to rights.  Technically, in the strictest legal sense, you can't use other people's work without explicit permission.  For a private, one-time event with no charge, you will be well below the radar of copyright enforcement.  That doesn't make it legal, that just means you'll get away with it.  There are various copyright provisions that allow for "fair use", and there are photos and music explicitly made available for public use, but in general, if you are using someone else's work without permission, you are stepping into copyright law territory and should watch your step.

The scripts, poems, and materials on Eaglescout.org have been contributed by their various authors for public use by Scouting volunteers and do not require additional permissions.  If you use materials on this site which are attributed to an author, please credit the author in your program or other materials.  A 'thank you' to Eaglescout.org is also always appreciated.

Please direct all inquiries & submissions to the webmaster at Eaglescout.org

Last update:  7/8/2009