Genealogy Wise

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In my last post, I addressed the question of who owns the genealogy?
Ownership of the information is an interesting question. As an example,
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) microfilmed the
Swedish Church records. A copy of the original microfilms is in the
Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Another copy went to the
Swedish National Archives. The Archives then "sold" the rights to these
films to Genline then digitized the microfilm records and
put them online in a subscription Website. Now, there is no doubt that
the LDS Church microfilm made a valuable contribution to the
availability of Swedish records around the world. It is also undoubted
that Genline made a huge contribution by digitizing the records and
making them available online. But to the average genealogist,
researching Swedish records, the net effect is that you pay to go to
Salt Lake to view the records, or you pay to rent a copy of the
microfilm and have it sent to a branch library, or you pay for access to
Genline and get the information online.

None of these entities, the LDS Church, Genline, the Swedish National
Archives or anyone else can be said to own the Swedish Church Records
and if each of those entities had not contributed time and money to the
preservation of the records there would be no justification for imposing
any kind of charge for viewing the records. Unfortunately, many record
repositories charge to view records. For example, try to get a copy of
your own birth certificate. You may end up paying from $5 on up for a
single copy. Does the state own your birth information? Do you own your
own birth information? In this context the question of who owns what are
somewhat meaningless. The state has the copy of your birth record and
if they want to charge you to obtain a copy, there is no one, short of
some legislative act, to stop them from doing so.


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Comment by William Douglas on June 10, 2010 at 3:54pm
It is a good question, James.

Often I find that subscribers think that their data is theirs, and will not be shared. It can be difficult to persuade them otherwise!



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