The National Speakers Association (NSA) is subject to the antitrust laws of the United States, as are most professional societies. Unlike most private businesses, however, the very nature of a professional organization like NSA fulfills the first requirement of an antitrust violation under Section 1 of the Sherman Act, that of a "combination" or "agreement."
NSA, therefore, recognizes the need to be constantly vigilant to prevent fulfillment of the second requirement relating to actions that could result in an illegal "restraint of trade or commerce." Any failure on the part of NSA to comply strictly with the antitrust laws could result in severe penalties. Treble damages for successful litigants, fines and possible jail terms for individuals involved in any illegal activities, and even disestablishment of the Association itself are all harsh remedies of the law. These penalties manifest the law’s strong public policy in favor of free and unfettered competition as the rule of trade. The laws of the United States that define the antitrust liabilities of professional societies, the Sherman Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act, are both very general in their wording and broad in their scope. Over the years, the courts have interpreted the broad language of the statutes and have provided specific examples of unlawful conduct, which violate the principles set down in the law. NSA recognizes that so long as it strives to conduct itself in accordance with such guidance, antitrust problems will be avoided.
Inasmuch as it is the policy of NSA to comply fully and in all respects with the antitrust laws, the following basic principles are endorsed by its Board of Directors as a guide for all members of the Association.
1. The National Speakers Association and its members shall make every effort to ensure that all of their actions comply with both the letter and spirit of the antitrust laws of the United States.
2. Any individual meeting the requirements of its membership as set forth in the NSA bylaws shall be welcomed into NSA on a non-discriminatory basis. Once an individual becomes a member, s/he shall be entitled to the same services that are available to other members on a non-discriminatory basis. No individual member shall be expelled except for just cause, and then only in such manner as is established in the bylaws to ensure that the expulsion is fair, objective, reasonable and non-discriminatory.
3. The National Speakers Association shall not indulge in, or sanction, any discussion of current or future fees or prices for public speaking. NSA meetings and publications will never be a forum for the exchange of information that could lead to the establishment of cooperative arrangements or activities in violation of the antitrust laws.
4. The National Speakers Association shall conduct all statistical and information exchange program functions on a voluntary basis, and all data collected from individuals shall be treated confidentially and in accordance with the antitrust laws.
5. The National Speakers Association shall never enter into or sanction any agreement that tends to restrict competition between members or within the profession generally. Professional standards established by NSA shall be formulated so as to ensure that there is no anti-competitive effect on the members or on the profession itself.
6. Programs sponsored by NSA shall be conducted in a non-discriminatory manner.
The National Speakers Association and its members subscribe to the basic philosophy that free trade and the interaction of competitive forces yield the best allocation of economic resources, the lowest cost to clients, the highest quality and the greatest progress. NSA’s policy on antitrust reaffirms its commitment to conduct the Association’s affairs in a manner conducive to the attainment of those goals.