A Special Report For Our Visitors & Supporters
— November 2013 —
Prepared by Jody Baxter, founder & volunteer president of WPP
This year we had an unexpected and expensive surprise — we discovered that the Huffington Post copied and published a significant portion of special prayers from the World Prayers compilation without the permission of our organization, or attribution to World Prayers as their source and without the explicit permission of our contributing authors.
Though we are absolutely committed to sharing the fruits of our labor — the World Prayers compilation — with the entire world, there are some uses that can actually have long term damaging effects upon our work.
Due to the deeply personal and sensitive nature of prayer, we have invested hundreds of hours in the careful work of obtaining copyright permissions from our many authors and copyright holders. We believe that we have an obligation to respect the rights of all others, including an author's right to determine how their prayers are used and where they are published.
Given the widely respected reputation of our nonprofit project and the "advertisement-free" presentation of our content, many hundreds of authors, translators, publishers and surviving heirs around the world have generously given us permission to publish their works for the benefit of our visitors. Their generosity is essential to the continuing success of World Prayers.
One particular concern to us was the manner in which the Huffington Post presented our content. They placed all of our prayers in a slideshow — featuring randomly changing commercial advertisements next to each prayer. This use of our materials appears to have been done for the financial gain of a major corporation without regard for the work of our organization or our purpose.
Furthermore, the Huffington Post not only ignored the clearly provided copyright statement on our website, they also deleted additional copyright statements beneath prayers which some of our authors requested as a condition of their permission. By removing these additional statements, the Huffington Post exposed these protected works to further infringement by others.
After careful consideration, we came to the conclusion that the Huffington Post was endangering the trust we have carefully built with our contributing authors. If our authors believe that contributing their works to World Prayers means they will forever lose control over their works, they may well choose to deny us permission or request removal of their work from our archive.
In order to protect the important relationships we have built with our contributing authors, we felt we had no choice but to legally demand that the Huffington Post "cease and desist" from using our copyright protected materials.
Though it has been a frustrating and expensive process, consuming much of our limited financial resources and time, WE HAVE PREVAILED and the Huffington Post has removed our content from their website.
Our board is very grateful to Patrick Reilly, founder of the Intellectual Property Society, for his generous pro bono help with this matter.
Our website visitor traffic has grown over 15% since the previous year. Given the steadily increasing number of annual visitors (including new ones and many returning ones) our clear impression is that World Prayers is continuing to serve a unique and valuable role in the world.
Whether it is students in classrooms around the world, or patients in hospitals, employees in office buildings, military personnel in war zones, incarcerated prisoners, faith communities of any kind, or individuals and families in the midst of difficulties, almost no segment of the world's society is unrepresented among our daily audience.
Given the growth of smart phone technology (including across many poor countries), almost half of all traffic to World Prayers today is now made via mobile devices. With millions of prayers being sent annually from our website to individuals from every free nation in the world (and some who aren't so free) the global reach of World Prayers seems almost beyond comprehension. And I'm happy to report — our growth shows no signs of waning.
Thanks to our volunteers and supporters, World Prayers remains the single most popular prayer resource of its kind in the world.
Due to the fast growth of our mobile device audience, we bit off the technical challenge of rebuilding our entire website so that it would perform well on all computer devices of any screen size (ie. smart phones, tablets, laptops, or big screen displays). We successfully completed this important task in the spring of 2013.
Now everyone, no matter where they are or what modern device they are using, has easy access to the World Prayers website.
For those of you who are social media users, we're now happy to offer a special feature we're calling, "One to Share..." via Facebook and Google+. Anyone who Likes our Facebook page or Follows us on Google+ will receive occasional, specially selected prayers from our growing compilation in their social media stream.
This is a great way to read some of our newest prayers (as they are added to the compilation) along with special prayers chosen by our volunteer staff.
After reflecting upon the past year and looking toward the next, I find myself asking:
How can we successfully meet the growing needs of World Prayers and better serve our expanding audience?
The answer I've found isn't difficult to imagine. I believe that:
A handful of dedicated volunteers (+) an appreciative donor public (x) persistence (=) continuing success.