The National Swimming Pool Foundation has filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska, against three Nebraska health departments.The suit alleges copyright infringement of materials used by the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services, the Douglas County Department of Health, the Lincoln/Lancaster County Department of Health, and individuals within those departments, for the use of materials from the NSPF Certified Pool/Spa Operator Handbook (published in years 1983 through 2007). One additional health department in Nebraska has reached an agreement with NSPF, a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization formed in 1965.
According to an NSPF press release, in June of 2009, the departments named in the lawsuit agreed to cease and desist, but they have not completely removed materials from the Internet, and have so far refused to compensate NSPF for losses caused by the alleged infringement. The press release also stated that materials at issue were registered by NSPF with the U.S. Copyright Office, meaning any party found guilty of infringement may be held liable for damages and attorney’s fees.
“It is unfortunate that we are forced to file suit to recover damages against agencies and individuals in a profession we have worked so hard to help,” commented Thomas M. Lachocki, Ph.D., the CEO of NSPF. “Any damages received by NSPF beyond our attorney fees will be directed to our grant budget to fund projects to protect citizens.”
Currently, 23 states have adopted requirements that public pool operators earn a certification based on a two-day training program. The State of Nebraska, and the counties named in the suit, only require a four-hour course taught by health department officials.