COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., March 29 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Swimming Pool Foundation® (NSPF®), a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization, 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).
"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," continued Dr. Lachocki.
In June of 2009, the departments agreed to cease and desist, but they have not completely removed infringing materials from the internet. They have so far refused to compensate NSPF for its losses caused by the infringement. One additional health department in Nebraska has reached an agreement with NSPF. The infringed materials were registered by NSPF with the U.S. Copyright Office. As a result, infringers may be held liable for damages and attorney's fees.
Currently, 23 states have adopted requirements that public pool operators earn a certification based on a two-day training program. Over 21,000 professionals receive training and earn certifications each year in the U.S. The certification training better ensures that pool operators and health officials help prevent illness, drowning, and accidents. Certification courses are offered by several organizations, including non-profit NSPF.
In contrast, the State of Nebraska and the counties named in this suit require only a four hour course taught by health department officials. "It is troubling that Nebraska's training requirements have not kept pace with the standard of care or the surrounding states including Colorado, Wyoming, and Iowa. It is frightening that the infringed materials are 20 years old and fail to address many current critical issues and threats," said Dr. Lachocki. "It is unfortunate when government agencies engage in copyright infringement. It is particularly unfortunate when the infringement provides the means for those agencies to offer training programs at artificially low prices that the agencies would not otherwise be qualified to offer, making it impossible for independent instructors to offer the most current educational programs," reinforced Eric Bentley, the attorney representing NSPF.
NSPF has a long history of supporting environmental health officials and departments, including granting over 1.1 million dollars since 2003 to help prevent recreational water illness, drowning, injuries and chemical exposure. NSPF hosts the National Swimming Pool Environmental Health Leader Meeting, at no cost to attendees, in conjunction with the World Aquatic Health™ Conference; both foster communication, best practices and problem solving between state and county health departments and leading environmental health officials and connecting them to the most current research.
The National Swimming Pool Foundation® (NSPF®) is a non-profit organization founded in 1965, giving back over $3.7 million in the past six years to fund grants to prevent illness, injury, and drowning, and to demonstrate the benefits of aquatic activity. NSPF instructors have trained over 240,000 professionals worldwide and their materials have been used in over 40 countries. Visit www.nspf.org and www.eproacademy.org.
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Thomas Lachocki, Ph.D.
SOURCE National Swimming Pool Foundation