Friday, April 13, 2012

Yet Another Connection

It never ceases to amaze me how many people contact me after doing a Google search for an ancestor or family member.
They are directed from their Google search to either my family website or this blog. A few of these ask me for further information on their ancestors, some ask me to do their research for them, some are from people who wish to correct my data and some are from people who share information that may unlock a family mystery for me while helping them break down a brick wall. This morning brought a new connection that promises to share some juicy information on early 20th century cousins.

I used to allow others to download a gedcom file from my website but since I have found my data appearing on other websites and on Ancestry I have disallowed this. I know it is my data because these people have copied holus bolus and even included the sometimes cryptic notes I have attached to people in my tree. So much of the stuff people have copied years ago is now also out of date. I also started to put old family photos on my website but stopped this practice when I found them appearing unsourced on Ancestry. I do not post certificates on the internet as I believe that, in many cases, this breaches copyright.

What I find interesting is that many people think that their trees are 'done' once they have copied some data. If you take some info from my site please firstly verify the sources yourself (some of my stuff isn't well sourced) and please revisit regularly to see if I have added to or amended the records for the persons in whom you have an interest. My site is dynamic, a work in progress, and is continually being updated.

I usually update my site every couple of weeks but, as I have been travelling since late January, only got around to updating it  to reflect my last three months of dabbling yesterday. Already this is out of date as last night and today I spent quite some time fixing sources, visiting new indexes on Ancestry, and searching new sources like the digitised newspapers at Singapore's National Library.


Rosemary said...

Well said. I maintain a public tree on Ancestry as one of the backups to my primary file on my PC. Like you, I don't add images of census data, wills, certificates, etc because of the copyright problems. I also have very few photos out there and those that are there I'm willing to let people use.

Michael Riley said...

I assume that newly issued certificates will retain copyright, but reproductions of older certificates (pre 1955) would not.
I believe that under Australian Law all public documents (and photos) created prior to 1955 are in the public domain, and the act of scanning them does not generate a new copyright on the document.

Also under the fair dealing clause dealing with research, it is not so clear cut.

Fi said...

I totally agree, Jill. This is why I've made my tree on Ancestry private. I know there are errors and don't wish for others to copy and cite as a source.

GeniAus said...

Thanks, Michael. I think I'll still err on the side of caution.

Sharon said...

I too have seen some of my data copied, including images from one of my books. I did ask for attribution but no reply. I should follow this up.

Michael Riley said...

I find the copyright and plagiarism debate interesting.
For example with copyright, many libraries make old pre 1955 photos available but still claim they are copyrighted. There have been a number of instances where I have wanted to pretty up a blog post with an image, but have erred on the side of caution.
Sharon's post about people copying her data is a good example of the issue:
I would be dismayed if my own notes or references appeared elsewhere and I would also be very frustrated if my post 1955 family photos appears somewhere else. There is Privacy issues as well here!. But if it is just names and dates and copies of old photos... then I myself would accept it. I would differentiate my own intellectual work from general facts.
Many people are new to genealogy, excited and not good researchers...For example my own collection contains photos that do not know where they came from....but if people are reproducing your notes, then that is poor form.
With photos, I believe it is legal to copy an old photo off the internet...but very poor practice if the original contributor is not cited, poor both ethically and intellectually. Old photos are in the public domain, not yours, so share them. (I share mine, but only at a fairly low resolution.)
In terms that people copy ‘facts’ and you have later made corrections, meaning the facts have changed...well that is what research is about. In academia, people publish their work and others use it. People’s reputations are made by what they publish, not what use others make of it. If you don’t publish, then no-one else will know and others will have to repeat the same work. Also there is no chance for others to critically examine your work and challenge it.



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