Genealogy Wise

The Genealogy & Family History Social Network

Today is the one-week birthday of GenealogyWise. In the last couple of days we have had to face some censorship issues for the first time. We have not been around long enough to have set policies for these kind of issues. So, we want to turn to you, our members, to help us set our censorship policies. We invite each of you to respond letting us know whether or not you think the following types of posts should be censored:

(1) Content related to pornography or adult content
(2) Content promoting products and services not related to genealogy (business opportunities, etc.)
(3) Content that is disrespectful or rude (name calling, etc.)

We value your feedback and want your help in setting policies. What do you think?

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I like this suggestion. Oftentimes I don't know if the subscription or item contains the information I'm looking for. If the look-up could indicate that there does seem to be a match - that would allow me to determine if the information is worthwhile to me.

Another idea might be to limit the look up to 1 per person or 1 per source with an indication as to whether there is more information on the family which might be pertinent - again to let me know if that source is worthwhile for me.
It's not a problem doing a single look-up for someone if they ask. The problem arises, as is happening here, if someone advertises on a public website that they have say a data CD published by a Family History Society and are offering to do look-ups for anyone who asks. The same would apply if someone were to offer to do look-ups from a subscription service such as Ancestry or Find My Past. If the publication is out of copyright there is no problem. Copyright varies from country to country. In Europe copyright expires seventy years after the author's death. Different copyright laws apply in the US.
I just posted Is A Lookup A Copyright Violation over at my blog - this is off topic to the GenealogyWise censorship question but I'd like to see this discussion on lookups continued.
So you would like to see it be the opposite? Me posting 'can someone verify there is an article for so and so?'; instead of someone saying 'if you need something from this resource, i'm your person!'. Strictly verifying, not giving, I think.
Gene, That's something different altogether. There's no problem with a researcher looking up individual resources for a client and reporting back on an individual basis. That is precisely what he should be doing. It only becomes a problem when someone advertises publicly on the internet that they have copyrighted material and are willing to provide look-ups for all and sundry.
Debbie, I see your point but consider this. Many of these titles are on shelves in public and genealogy libraries all over the place where I can walk in and get the same information free. The Internet (and "blanket look ups") effectively allows me to walk into multiple libraries at one time. Also consider that some genealogy titles can be a bit pricey and many researchers wont buy them unless a good portion of what's inside is about their family. There is a book that mentions some of my ancestors, but there are two sentences about them and I'm not forking over the $30 for the book for two sentences. So in cases like this, they have not missed out on any sales.

An example of both scenarios: In the county in which I live our local historical society published 11 books with listings for every cemetery in the county.. Each book sells for $15. Most people wont spend the money to verify two or three names/dates etc. Sure, the historical society wants to make money from them. But the historical society also has copies of the books on the shelves of the genealogy library in the basement of the museum where they sell the books.

Also, in many cases there isn't actually a copyright. The cemetery listings I mentioned above have no copyright information on them. And sometimes the likes of Ancestry use the work of other people for their subscription services and offer no compensation. One of my ancestors wrote a book in the 1960s about one of my many branches. I found this book on Ancestry.com but you had to have a paid subscription to view it. When I asked them about making money off of my ancestors work I was told they found a copy on the shelf in a library and didn't see a copyright so they made photocopies and put it into their database. Also, before I first uploaded a GEDCOM to Rootsweb many years ago you could not find any information about my Manzenberger family on Rootsweb, Ancestry or any of the others. After I put it on Rootsweb I found information I had collected once again behind one of the paid subscriptions of Ancestry.
Please see my Forum discussion entitled The Law and the links there. In the United States today, there need not be a copyright notice on most matters published after 1978; the copyright adheres upon publication. The law is a bit more complex as to pre-1978 publications.
Copyright law is quite complex. Some things that haven't been mentioned are exceptions to copyright law such as Fair Use and educational purposes as well as library and archival. In a genealogy setting it could very easily be considered an educational use or possibly archival, depending on how it is done. Under these exceptions no permission is required (under US law).

Copyright notices were required until March 1, 1989.

Also, unpublished works are not protected by copyright, but what legally constitutes being published? I have compiled a few books over the years with various cemetery info. Does the act of printing them constitute publishing, or does it have to be printed by a recognized publisher? I do put copyright info on my works, and I qualify it by saying to contact me for commercial use, free to use for non-commercial purposes. In most look up cases there is no commercial use, only educational. Does a genealogy society legally publish when they copy data to CDs on their in house computer or prints them in hard copy at the local Kinkos?
Facts are not subject to copyright. Thus if you have compiled burial information from cemeteries, you cannot claim a copyright in the factual information itself. The fact that John Doe was born on a certain date and died 85 years later cannot be protected by copyright. There may be unique features of the compilation that could protected by copyright--but not the factual information.

Unpublished works created since the effective date of the 1976 Copyright Act are in fact protected by copyright from the moment of their creation. "Creation" in the 1976 Act occurs when a work is fixed in a copy for the first time. Books, manuscripts, video, sheet music, software, all constitute copies in which a work may be fixed.

"Publication" is defined in the 1976 Act as:

the distribution of copies or phonorecords of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending. The offering to distribute copies or phonorecords to a group of persons for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or public display constitutes publication. A public performance or display of  a work does not of itself constitute publication.

So the answer to your example about the society publishing its data is that there is no "publication" of the work until it is distributed "by sale or other transfer of ownership" or offered to be distributed for further distribution or public display.

Again, publication is no longer required in order to claim a copyright. But publication still has some legal significance because the year of publication may affect the rights of the copyright holder in certain cases and because works "published" in the United States must be deposited with the Library of Congress (although failure to do so does not deprive the work of copyright protection).
There is no copyright in the cemetery listings per se. If you go into a cemetery or a churchyard you can transcribe the inscriptions and freely publish them on the internet. However if a society transcribes all the cemetery records and publishes them it has copyright over its own transcriptions. I don't know anything about US copyright law. In Europe if you publish something I believe you automatically have copyright regardless of whether or not you include a copyright statement. I think when people upload material to Ancestry there is something in their terms and conditions which states that they can basically do what they want with your material. For this reason I have never uploaded a GEDCOM file to Ancestry.
I believe all three types of content you've identified above should be censored from the site.

I come to GenealogyWise to connect with other researchers in the Genealogy space. That's why I'm here - that's what I want. We can be assaulted with unwanted SPAM in any number of online environments - please protect it from us here.

However, I do believe a platform is only as strong as its community. That said, respectful forums and dialogue that may in some respect offer constructive criticism, should be dealt with on a case by case basis.

It's healthy to see [and voice] things differently - it keeps us all in check!:-)

Luckie.
I agree. We value diverse opinions and debates from people who have different views.

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