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OHPE Bulletin 40, Volume 1998, No. 40

Copy It Right Issues

We do our best to filter and disseminate useful information and tools for health promotion. Our own site ( has numerous documents in a variety of forms which we encourage others to read, download, even adapt to their own purposes. Recently we pointed out the WHO Health Promotion Glossary.

Careful reading reveals that the copyright notice, "...No part of this document may be stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any by any means electronic, mechanical or other without the prior written permission of WHO.", appears to work against the goal of dissemination.

This appears to be a standard notice found in many publications. It has always been difficult to enforce. Once it is mounted in public web space, there can be no enforcement. In most cases, all documents are stored at least temporarily to a local drive. PDF files, such as the glossary have to be downloaded in order to view.

Presumably we make these materials available in order to promote their use and distribution. Don Forgie, the professor who introduced me to the realities of electronic publishing, encouraged the use of a notice to ' .... please copy it right...' . Acknowledge the source of the document and abide by the requests of its creator(s).

A. Simon Mielniczuk - OPC Feb 6, 1998 for OHPE Bulletin Editorial Team. (email -

On the Health-Promotion list-serv on Friday, February 6th this issue was raised about Copyrights and restriction of the use of the Health Promotion Glossary.

A response from the World Health Organization Health Education & Promotion section contact follows

Subject: FW: About copyrights

As far as I understand we can and we want to disseminate the document.

When it comes to download the document from the web-site, I do not see any problem BUT, to stay on the safe side, we are waiting for the legal advice that will then be forwarded to you.

Thanks for informing us so promptly.




In the resources suggested today in the OHPE Bulletin, most of them are available for free through the Internet in an Adobe Acrobat Reader PDF file format. Please check the copyright statements on any of these documents! We assume that Health Canada has already faced this issue and developed an appropriate 'copy it right' statement for on-line documents.