Did Ancestry Violate the Copyright Law? . . . Prologue

Part I of A Legal Analysis of the Late Controversy By now, the brouhaha over’s “Internet Biographical Collection” has largely blown over. Ancestry has said that they will permanently remove the database and the genealogical community is ready to move on. The passage of a little time and the cooling of passion on the issue permits some calm and …Continue reading →

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OFF Thieves, Hypocrites, Blunderers, or Fair Users?

I got an e-mail from Janice Brown of Cow Hampshire, telling me about’s “Internet Biography Collection.” I always appreciate hearing about new resources on the Web. But the problem here is that, a commercial, for-profit enterprise, has appropriated Janice’s work, the work of a number of other bloggers and noncommercial webmasters, and MINE! Ancestry explains its new collection …Continue reading →


More on Images

Randy Seaver has examined the Terms and Conditions here. It appears that Ancestry’s images are licensed for “personal and professional history research.” Furthermore, the license provides, “Online or other republication of Content is prohibited except as unique data elements that are part of a unique family history or genealogy.” Randy surmises that downloaded Ancestry images could be used in …Continue reading →


A Bit More About Genealogy and The (Copyright) Law

While I was plagiarizing the United States Copyright Office‘s FAQs for the last post, I noticed two that are of direct interest to genealogists: [I’ve edited the answers for stylistic purposes only]. Can I register a diary I found in my grandmother’s attic? You can register copyright in the diary only if you own the rights to the work, for …Continue reading →


Genealogy, Law, And Common Sense

There’s been a lot of commentary in the geneablogsphere about some of the business moves made lately by The Generations Network, owner of and other properties. I’ve expressed an opinion about TGN’s demands to shut down certain websites and that bloggers remove images from their sites. Since I am a law professor (and now that finals are nearly over …Continue reading →

July 2015
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