American Permaculture Directory

A Tool for Sustainable Living ©

"Permaculture" -- Use and Copyrights

APD Cover Shot

Only those who have taken a 72-hour basic Permaculture Design Course and/or received the Certificate awarded may teach Permaculture courses and use the term for business purposes.

A quote from the Foundation Year-Book of The Pc Academy p17 1993:

"The word "Permaculture" was defined & copyrighted by publications in the Organic Gardening & Farming Society’s newsletter in Hobart, Tasmania in 1975.....Ownership of the copyright is equally invested (by B C Mollison in the Pc Institutes & their graduates from a Certificated permaculture course. It cannot be given away except to graduates.

Copyright was deliberately sought, & the unique name coined so that this system of education could not be preempted by existing institutions or government agencies (as corporate bodies). The intention of the copyright is to keep the educational area (with its considerable goodwill) to those who know what a Pc course consists of! No person who is not a course graduate can use this name for profit: all normal uses for purposes of reviews, discussion, news items and so on is permitted, & graduates (but only graduates) of courses can register for-profit enterprises or corporations using this name.

Likewise, Pc graduates who are appointed to or who belong to other teaching institutions can teach courses; that institution itself, however, cannot use the name for profit, or for raising funds, if its directors are not graduate nor should any such directors be appointed to Pc institutes or their boards.

Non-profit Pc associations freely use the name, as can any association of people with a common interest in Pc, but not for paid or certificated courses. Where non-certificated teachers offer paid courses on Pc they have been successfully challenged by several graduates, but also invited to attend a full course and to later continue their teaching. Such pirate courses have been found to be more akin to organic farming or ‘new age’ mysticism than applied design, so that the necessity for copyright has been validated.

Cover letter to Permaculture and other associated Journals

Press Release - May 11 1999

Dear Editor:

We frequently receive notifications from teachers and students of their intention to alter or change the Permaculture curriculum or to restrict teachers or students in their pursuits to teach or study and also laying claim to the material. This material is vested in the Institutes and the graduates of courses and to that extent in common ownership. But the material itself was solely evolved by the author and the original curriculum taught in 1979 was devised by the author alone. People tend to loose sight of this and claim ownership by adoption. (For some reason this is happening most recently in Australia). Thus we need to periodically re assert ownership and to legally update copyright. At my death copyright shall remain with the Permaculture Institute in Australia and Permaculture Institute Inc. in USA and their directors and the same laws shall apply, that is teachers can not claim personal ownership of the curriculum or sell it or give it way without infringing copyright law.

We would very much appreciate you printing our reasserting as you are a vehicle for information on Permaculture. Thank you in advance for your kind attention to this matter.

Most Sincerely, Bill Mollison Director



From Bill Mollison, Author, Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual

For further information, contact Lisa Mollison

Phone: 61 3 6445 0945 Fax:61 3 6445 0944


11 May 1999

RE: Ownership of Permaculture Curriculum

Periodically, it is necessary to reassert my ownership of the original Permaculture curriculum, which is also legally asserted by publication of the Permaculture Manual in 1988 of which the contents of the book and the word Permaculture are copyrighted to the author and that any use of said curriculum must be by application to the author, that is not to secretaries or other directors, but to the author only. The Permaculture Design Course handbook issued by the Permaculture Institute to students for many years now is simply a concise outline of said curriculum, and subject to the same laws. If any person writes a text book, in particular a foundation text book for a subject, no other person can assert ownership of that text, lay out or illustrations nor can any group of people substantially alter or assert ownership of the text. We have always specifically guarded ownership of the PC curriculum so that all students have much the same experience in common no matter what their cultural or financial backgrounds are, they would have a common and equal education experience.

Both this Institute and our American Institute in Santa Fe, Permaculture Institute, Incorporated, are attempting to establish an academy that will be legally able to issue higher degrees this is a long process and will not be running smoothly for some time to come.. The Permaculture Institute began issuing diplomas to students after two years practical work following their certificate course in about 1988. It is and shall remain the registrar of all diploma holders globally. This diploma is widely recognized through other institutions and some universities, like Humboldt State University and Slippery Rock University, etc...

In the past re-assertions of copyright have appeared in the Academy Yearbook, p. 17 and have been reproduced in the 1998 American Permaculture Directory, p. 6. Students publishing curriculum which often contain word for word copies of copyrighted material from the manual and course handbook cannot sell that curriculum nor can institutions purchase said curriculum or teach it, even if presented under other names, such as Sustainable Agriculture or Sustainable Designs. All such people need to write their own curriculum and textbooks and not plagiarize my work nor my illustrations. It would be refreshing if people wanting to publish would create their own material and did not plagiarise mine.

This note is to restate the current position so there can be no misunderstandings about ownership of the material.

Thank you,

Bill Mollison, Director, Permaculture Institute

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