Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Mailbox: Ancestry Removing Find A Grave Photos?

Dear Ancestry Insider,

The email below was sent to me by one of my students. [Insider Note: I’ve removed identifying information from the student’s letter because I don’t know if Joanie had the student’s permission to forward it to me.]

AAACCCKKKK!

I have a private tree on ancestry.com.  As part of my research I [find headstones on]findagrave and put the photo and a link on my private tree.  I must have a couple hundred photos, all with the required documentation. 

Can ancestry just remove them all? How does ancestry.com know that I wasn’t the one who took the photo to begin with?

I am a member of findagrave.com. I have contributed 1000s more photos than I will ever copy. People write me and ask me for permission and I give permission for use of photos I have taken.

HELP!

Signed,
Joanie Hanion

The letter first received by the student from Ancestry.com:

From: Ancestry Executive Team
To: [Name Removed]
Subject: Copyright Claim
Date: Wed, 27 Jul 2011

image

July 27, 2011

Dear [Joanie’s Student],

Thank you for using Ancestry.com. We appreciate your patronage and are committed to providing excellent customer service.

A specific complaint has been made about copyrighted photographs that were posted on your Personal Member Tree.  You may have added these photos from another member’s public tree unknowingly; however, per the Terms of Service on our website, we are under obligation to remove any copyrighted photos. Thus, we request removal of the following photos from your family tree:

http://trees.ancestry.com/tree/[URL to the photograph]

We kindly request that you remove the photos within 3 business days. We ask that you do not re-post the specific copyrighted photos in question. If it becomes apparent that you are purposefully continuing to post copyrighted photos on the website, we are required by law to remove the photos and may be obligated to take further action.

If you have any questions regarding this or any other matters pertaining to Ancestry.com, please contact us by responding to this email.

Sincerely,

Naomi    Executive Office
Ancestry.com
360 West 4800 North
Provo, UT 84604

Student’s reply to Ancestry.com:

From: [Joanie’s Student]
Sent: Wednesday, July 27, 2011
To: Ancestry.com Customer Service
Subject: RE: Copyright Claim

Naomi;

I have removed the photo of Ethel (Workman) House's tombstone as requested below.

Yes, I did get it from another member's tree via Member Connect.

There was nothing in the photo or JPG file tag that indicated to me that it was copyrighted.

Thanks for keeping us within the law.

Best Regards,
[Joanie’s Student]

Ancestry.com’s reply to Joanie’s Student

July 27, 2011

Dear [Joanie’s Student],

Thank you for contacting us at Ancestry.com.  We appreciate your feedback and are committed to providing excellent customer service. 

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.  The initial Ancestry.com user who posted the photos to Ancestry.com took the photos off of Findagrave.com. On the Findagrave.com website, the photos are copyrighted by the individual who uploads them to the site.  Because an Ancestry.com user uploaded copyrighted photos onto the website, we are obligated to remove all instances where that copyrighted photo appears on our site.  We sincerely appreciate your willingness to comply with our request.

If you are able to take your own personal photos of the gravestones, you are more than welcome to add them to the site; however, we are required to remove the particular photos in question.

If you have any questions regarding this or any other matters pertaining to Ancestry.com, please contact us by responding to this email.

Sincerely,

Naomi    Executive Office
Ancestry.com
360 West 4800 North
Provo, UT 84604

Dear Joanie,

I spoke with Ancestry.com. They are not targeting Find A Grave submissions. They act according to requests from individual copyright holders. Let me illustrate with the case in hand.

  • Jackie Wilson Goddard is like you, a Find A Grave member who has contributed thousands of photographs.
  • Back in 2009 Jackie took a picture of the gravestone of Ethel House, b. 1887, d. 1972.
  • Last March, she uploaded it to Find A Grave and added an explicit copyright notice:

Copyright © 2009 by Jackie Wilson Goddard. All rights reserved. The photograph may be used solely for personal, informational, and internal purposes. The photograph may not be modified or altered in any way OR posted on any other web-site for any purpose.

  • This may seem restrictive, but as Jackie points out on her profile page, all photographs on Find A Grave are copyrighted. Your willingness to share your photos does not override Jackie’s copyright.
  • Some errant person uploaded Jackie’s photograph to their Ancestry Member Tree, in violation of Jackie’s copyright and Ancestry.com’s Terms and Conditions.
  • Joanie’s student found the photograph via Ancestry.com’s Member Connect and attached it to his tree.
  • Jackie discovered her photograph was on Ancestry.com, informed Ancestry.com of the copyright violation, and asked them to remove it. Anyone who discovers their copyrighted work on Ancestry.com can do the same.
  • Ancestry.com verified Jackie’s claim, as they do all requests to remove copyrighted works.
  • On 27 July 2011 Ancestry.com contacted the Errant Uploader and anyone else who had attached it to their own tree. Joanie’s Student was one of these.
  • Presumably, 3 or 4 days later Ancestry.com removed any remaining copies.

Lessons learned?

  • You don’t have right to use any photograph on Find A Grave for any purpose without the permission of the owner. You can understand why contributors don’t want Ancestry.com making money from photographs that are supposed to be free for the benefit of all. (I think this position is short sighted. But that’s a topic for another time.)
  • If you want to allow others to use your gravestone photographs without contacting you first, you need to post your permission with each photograph.
  • Because your member tree is private, no one knows if you’ve posted hundreds of photographs without permission. No one will complain to Ancestry.com. And Ancestry.com will not be contacting you, asking you to remove all your Find A Grave photographs.

Let me take that back. Don’t hate me. Now that I’ve published your letter, Ancestry.com knows you’ve posted hundreds of potentially illegal photographs. Maybe you’ll get a letter after all…

Signed,
-- The Insider

35 comments:

  1. Dear Insider,

    This whole photo posting issue on Ancestry is a nightmare. I recently found a photo of my mother-in-law (still alive) on a public tree on Ancestry. It turned out to be my husband's OWN photo which I had shared with a distant relative a couple of years ago. She had posted it on her private tree, but later given access to an even more distant relative, who had uploaded the photo to her public tree.

    I emailed both parties, who immediately removed the said photo and were extremely apologetic. But how do I know there aren't other incidents of this type, without continually scanning other members' public trees?

    I therefore broadly support the action taken by Ancestry described in your post, but maybe they could do more to help alert us to the issues involved?

    Rosemary Morgan
    www.londonrootsresearch.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Obviously, I just don't get it. I'm not sure why anyone would be willing to take photos of headstones for someone and then not want that person to use those photos. I take photos of headstones, and if a family member wanted to use that photo to share on his public tree, then I am all for that.

    The reality is that for many of us, a trip to the cemetery of our ancestors is not possible, so we rely on those that are willing to help us. But what good is that help if we can't do anything with the photo?

    And what about an ancestry book? Can you not use said photos when you prepare your book? If not, then there's really no point in there being Find a Grave photo volunteers. If the only place their photo is allowed to be is on Find a Grave, then it's stupid to even ask for a photo. After all, sending people to Find a Grave to view photos is not really a very convenient way to share your famiy history.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow. What a can of worms.

    I recently added one photo to my family tree from another member that originated from Find a Grave. Guess I better track it down and remove it until I get permission.

    The copyright notice says: "The photograph may be used solely for personal, informational, and internal purposes." which suggests to me I could download it for personal use, but I can't publish it (put it on a public website).

    Does ancestry.com have a way for us to attach a photo to a public family tree but hide it from public view? Seems like an obvious option they could add to the photo uploads.

    They could also be more proactive in the photo upload process. After the upload button is clicked there could be another window that spells out these details more specifically. Then "Are you sure you have permission to publish this photo?" before the upload is complete.

    These gravestones are so valuable to confirm birth and death dates, even more so when it's located halfway across the country. It would be a shame to have to avoid them.

    An alternative solution would be to have a public tree and a private tree, and when in doubt, keep it private.
    But, now that I've said all that I realize a private family tree on ancestry.com is still a website. The copyright notice goes on to say:
    "The photograph may not be ... posted on any other web-site for any purpose."

    Like I said... a can of worms.

    Jan

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks Ancestry Insider! :-)
    How could I ever be mad at you, Ancestry Insider? You provide a wealth of information all the time. And as far as the ancestry "police" - I copy my ancestry tree to a local copy on Family Tree Maker every week, so I'll always have the photos. OOPS -NOW THEY'LL COME TO MY HOME! HELP! :-)
    I agree with the message from Pattie that states..."I'm not sure why anyone would be willing to take photos of headstones for someone and then not want that person to use those photos." FindAGrave is a great organization and God bless all the volunteers who go out and take the time to upload photos and other info....but really, why does it exist if we can't use the photos in our own research?
    On my ancestry tree I always provide a link to the page at FindAGrave both on the picture as well as the 'web link' at the bottom of the page. I also add the URL to the comment for burial information. I am not going to 'sell' the information. I guess there are some people who would do such a thing.

    Thank you for your reply. I await the call/email from ancestry!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I certainly understand ....s' point of view. In this field there have always been two schools of thought in the realm of sharing. Whether our compiled genealogy is there to share, or whether it is copyright work product for which one should receive recompense says more about the researcher/compiler/"owner" than it does about the accuracy of any particular format or sharing mechanism.

    As one who has been researching lineages professionally since 1975 and writing for nearly as long, I take a fairly pragmatic approach to evidence and definitely understand the author's justifiable objection to spending thousands hours gaining hard-won knowledge only to send it out into the uneducated and unwashed world.

    There has been a bias toward freely sharing in genealogy and family history for some decades, and this rankles some who come from scholarly disciplines whose stock-in-trade is copyrighted work.

    There is no question that publicly grown and distributed family trees are full of garbage, copied from one newbie to the next. Again, it is not the medium, nor the protection of accurately compiled research and analysis that is the point. It is whether one has a profit motive in the endeavor.

    Large swaths of scientific academia have moved in the direction of collaboration and crowd sourcing, leading to much faster discovery. Wikipedia is a prime example of open source publication. To whose advantage does the high protection of inside knowledge redound?

    Yet, I have full respect for anyone wanting to protect his or her work, and would never criticize the right to do so. As I envision my own "end of days", I become even more free with my work.

    After all, we are all beggars, when it comes down to it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good reply. I respect those who want to protect their work also.
      In my experience, if someone has a private tree on ancestry, no one can even see the photograph unless they get permission from the owner. That permission may need to include whether the photo's may be copied or not. If the person puts a private photo on a public tree---well, it is public and the owner does have another option.

      For myself, I have done a few different things. First I only put up personal pictures that I don't mind others copying. Then, If someone else has pictures I would like to include in my book-I email and explain why I want the pictures and ask for permission to use them. The ones who have bothered to answer have all said yes [I have filed the permission answers to also publish with the book]. Many do not bother to answer and have not been on their tree for several years, so it makes you wonder?

      Many pictures I have seen are on several different sites-for instance, I saw some pictures on this site that I also have seen on ancestry and on a name search under images. On this site the owner's name is under the picture but, unless I was curious as to the legal issues of using a picture for my book, I might have mistakenly copied one.

      Perhaps as genealogist this is an issue we need to make more public.

      Delete
  6. I looked at some of the photos I copied from FAG. I could not find any copyright info. I did credit FAG as source. If there is a copyright would it be on each photo at FAG?
    I thought the reason for posting them was to share. I know when I post a photo I am happy when it gets connected to another tree. Dozens of cousins I didn't know about.

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  7. I do want to clarify something...I desperately try to document every piece of info in my family trees, hence, using a gravestone photo to prove a burial place and to have a source (not primary, of course) for a birth and death date is a wonderful asset. If it weren't for gravestone photos and the ability to see other family members in the same cemetery, I would certainly not be as far along at breaking down some brick walls. Combined with other sources they build a terrific story of our ancestors.

    I do not mean to give the impression I am out there "stealing" photos. I keep my tree private so I can verify the info I do have. I will now have to look at who I share my tree with to make sure they are not re-posting pictures. Having a copy of the photo helps to make sure I do not make a transcription error.

    I will make every effort to get permission from now on, but chances are, responses may not be forthcoming. I write to many people who have submitted photos with additional information about the family member (such as an obituary I copied from a newspaper..OH OH, there I go again!) to correct their record and never hear back, but I will at least make more of an effort from now on.

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  8. Oh, dear, here we go again. SIGHH. The party that stomps around a cemetery, takes a photo, edits same, uploads to FAG, or whatever web site they desire, HOLDS the copyright to that photo. Period. And, it even says so on the web site. Period.

    Now, whether they insist on maintaining that copyright is their own business, for their own reasons, and NO, I don't have to agree. It is NOT my business, it is theirs. I don't even have to like it. Period.

    I took about 800 or so photos in one county in a southern state, spent some time fussing with them, uploaded to FAG, even had to build a memorial for some number of those. I granted permission to anyone who wants to use those photos. I even sent the raw and edited photos to the historical society down there. I hope they are used, every single one of them, time and time again. Period.

    My own family photos, I tend to feel a bit different about, that said, what happens to them when I go to my greater rewards? Not to be crude, but, mmm, will I really care once I pass? Nope. Period.

    The fact remains, if whomever took that photo on FAG wants to enforce their copyright, they can, no matter what we think. SIGH and Period!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Regardless of if a statement is posted on the site where the photo was taken, the person who took the photo does own the copyright. If you take photos from any website without permission and especially proper attribution, you run the risk of having a cease and desist issued.

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  10. For some of us, we object to having our photographs taken from Find A Grave and placed on Ancestry because of the following line in Ancestry's Terms of Service: "By submitting content to Ancestry, you grant Ancestry, the corporate host of the Service, a license to the content to use, host, distribute that Content and allow hosting and distribution of that Content, to the extent and in that form or context we deem appropriate."

    This can be interpreted to mean that I'm giving up my copyright to Ancestry and I'm certainly not doing that. I have, and I will continue to ask that my photos taken from Find A Grave NOT be posted on Ancestry without my express permission.

    ReplyDelete
  11. In short; if you don't have the photographer's permission and/or didn't take the photo yourself, you do not post the photo.

    ReplyDelete
  12. My name is Jackie Wilson Goddard and I am glad you have chosen to use your blog to bring a very real problem to light. However, I would like to point out a few lessons which were omitted:

    --- Users should read, and understand, the "terms of use" documentation on any site they use. Documents such as Ancestry’s “Terms & Conditions” as well as their “Content Submission Agreement” and Find A Grave’s FAQs. Each addresses the issue of copying something that belongs to someone else. Ancestry’s “Content Submission Agreement” is explicit by having, in bold, “Be aware that content, including photographs, even if submitted to a site of which you are a member, belongs to the creator or submitter and you should not reproduce it without permission of the owner”.

    --- When you add a media item to Ancestry, you are not only agreeing that others can see and use it, you are also agreeing that Ancestry can re-distribute that item in whatever manner they deem appropriate. If that item does not belong you, you are giving away someone else’s rights. Can I give my neighbor permission to use your car even though I have no legal authority to do so? Or, can I give my neighbor permission to dig up flowers from your yard?

    --- Copying a photo to Ancestry is completely unnecessary as Ancestry provides the “Web Links” feature to prevent users from infringing copyrights. Users can also set up a “Source” and then link directly to the Find A Grave memorial in the citation. Likewise, if you have your own site, you should link to the item rather than copy.

    --- The common courtesy we learned as children “Ask first” still applies. The worst that can happen is receiving the answer “No”. The last time I checked, “No” is neither a four-letter word
    :-) nor an answer which should never been given. It is, in fact, the only logical answer for certain questions (“Honey, does this make me look fat?”).

    I’m glad people have contacted Joanie and asked permission to use her photos. Unfortunately, that has not been my experience. In the nearly six years I have been contributing to Find A Grave, less than twenty have asked for permission to use my photos. All save one were “after the fact” as unauthorized copies of the photos were already on another site. On the other hand, literally hundreds of my photos have been copied to Ancestry and other sites.

    A miniscule percentage of those who take the photos ever contribute information or photos to the corresponding Find A Grave memorial. Many of these people say how sad they are that I am “unwilling to share”. Hmmm. I suppose it would be alright with them if I copied photos on their Ancestry trees and posted them on Find A Grave? While that may be okay for others, the woman I see in the mirror would continually remind me what I did was wrong, legally and morally, but even more, in the eyes of the parents who raised me to do the right thing.

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  13. You do need to read the fine print on every site. Sites like IowaGravestones.org prohibits hotlinking per their website: "HOT LINKING PROHIBITED: Direct linking to the graphics on this web site is prohibited. This is considered "Hot Linking" and in effect you are stealing bandwidth from this web site. Images used on your site must be saved to your computer or server and not referenced in your html code to the images located on our server. Embedding images located on any domain or sub-domain belonging to IOWAGRAVESTONES.ORG from your html documents is considered bandwidth theft." From this page: http://iowagravestones.org/terms.php

    ReplyDelete
  14. "americansaga said...
    Wow. What a can of worms.

    I recently added one photo to my family tree from another member that originated from Find a Grave. Guess I better track it down and remove it until I get permission.

    The copyright notice says: "The photograph may be used solely for personal, informational, and internal purposes." which suggests to me I could download it for personal use, but I can't publish it (put it on a public website).

    Does ancestry.com have a way for us to attach a photo to a public family tree but hide it from public view? Seems like an obvious option they could add to the photo uploads."

    So, what you're asking is a way to HIDE you're copyright violation and you're asking Ancestry to ABET you you in that violation. Sweet.

    ReplyDelete
  15. MidwestAncesTrees, I was not, in any way, suggesting anyone "Hot Link". Please re-read my comment. Both Ancestry's "Web Links" and linking within a source citation (on an Ancestry tree) are TEXT LINKS, which neither steal bandwidth nor infringe copyrights. I do suggest you familiarize yourself with those features/capabilities so that you can teach your students how to use them. If you have been promoting taking photos, and other items, from other sites, that is truly shameful.

    ReplyDelete
  16. The creator of any work--be it a photograph, blog post, newspaper article, book, song, etc-- automatically owns the copyright. "Copyright" means exactly what it says--the create owns the rights to control how copies of that content are used. They can grant you permission to copy--but you have to ask; you may not assume.

    If the creator of a work chooses to publish that work on a website (such as Find a Grave, it is there for anyone to appreciate it--and to use it for personal uses (such as save it or print it, and use the information in your research). But you have no "right" to distribute a "copy"-- which is what you are doing when you take the photo and publish it somewhere else.

    I am glad to see that Ancestry took this action, and glad for this blog post too.

    BTW. Ancestry trees are not private, even if you mark them private. Realize that anything you put on Ancestry, becomes the property of Ancestry. That's why I never ever upload anything to a tree.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Ancestry users must also realize that the photo that is seen on a tree is only a "display" rather like a movie on a theater screen. The movie isn't actually on the screen, it is only displayed there. Although a tree owner can remove the display of the photo from their tree, the photo itself remains on the Ancestry server and only Ancestry staff can remove it. Therefore, it is necessary to follow the infringement claim process to have that unauthorized copy completely removed from Ancestry.

    Also, in response to Patti: The reality is that I take photos of grave markers to photo-document cemeteries, which has been my hobby for many years (far longer than I have been contributing to F.A.G.). The photos are **shared** on free web-sites, of my choosing, so others can see the marker and verify the information gleaned from it. The photos are for preservation and my own enjoyment rather than "for" a person or even a web-site. You most certainly can use them by creating a link **to** the authorized copy (where the photographer placed them). If you were to publish a book, you definitely need the express written permission of each photographer (unless the photo is old enough to have passed into public domain) lest you violate copyright law and open yourself up to that liability.

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  18. The problem as I see is that those people do not respond when you write to them. So your waiting forever.

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  19. Wow! I have taken 1000's of photographs for Find a Grave. The sole reason for doing so -- to share! Now I know why so many people were speaking badly of Ancestry on FAG's forums! I take these photos and add a memorial to know these loved ones are always remembered and can be shared with everyone. Please feel free to use any of my photos as I stomped, climbed, drove, sweated, froze, and enjoyed every cemetery (well not all)!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I'm a Findagrave submitter. I have no problem with people using the photos I post. However, out of common courtesy I expect to be given credit for the photo. I recently found 3 people that had posted a headstone I'd posted on Findagrave. Two had given me credit for the photo, one had not. I filed a complaint with ancestry for the one that had not posted the credit. I don't believe giving credit is too much to ask for the effort I put in.
    Larry

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  21. All the images on my website were watermarked (1000+) with my URL and even so many have been copy/pasted into ancestry.com and mundia.com so this topic is of interest to me. I have followed the procedure for their copyright department and sent through details, links etc. Now to wait, which has been awhile already. I have made one friendly followup but they dont seem to acknowledge your email. As a result of re-internet posting, i no longer keep large size images on my website. So, in the mean time, i'm just waiting for Ancestry.com to say something to me.

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  22. Bobby, I'm sorry to hear your photos have been pirated, but glad that you filed a claim with Ancestry. By law, companies/web-sites are required to "act expeditiously" when informed of the infringement. If 30 days have passed since filing your claim, contact them again, ask for the status and tell them you expect the claim to be completely resolved no later than 2 weeks from the date of your email (may help to include the phrase "act expeditiously").

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  23. I know I'm a little late in commenting on this post, but I had a similar situation...in reverse. I had a public tree on Ancestry with photos, gravestone images, copies of death certs, etc. Someone took many of my photos from my Ancestry tree and posted them on Find-A-Grave, including copies of the death certs. They were for my husband's family and my father-in-law was NOT happy that his parents death certs had been posted on Find-A-Grave. I find this all very interesting because Ancestry's response was very much the opposite. I posted the photos on my tree, so basically they were fair game for anyone to copy and repost anywhere they wanted. My tree is now private and I only grant access to it very selectively with the express consent of the guest not to copy photos or documents.

    I don't understand why people don't just follow the simple rule: "Ask first!"

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  24. I find this entire issue comical. How many "photographers" obtain written permission from the cemetery to take the photo in the first place? Yeah, exactly. You can't just wonder into any other business and start snapping photos and call them yours, cemetery is no different. And if it is that important to you, don't post them on a website (or at least watermark them).

    ReplyDelete
  25. I am a FindAGrave contributor and a artist/photographer. In my profile I state:
    "As an artist/photographer I hope to give back to this community with fulfilling tombstone requests in my area.

    Feel free to use any of the tombstone photographs I have taken for your own personal genealogy work. Good research would dictate a footnote to source of information, but it is not necessary.

    Copyright: The photographs I have taken MAY NOT be used for duplicate memorials on FindAGrave nor for publications that will be sold without prior permission. Thank you!"

    I am wondering if this is clear enough? What does this say to others? Let me know if I need to be more specific.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Kevin, I find your comments comical. Using your analogy of a business: When you go to a professional football game and take a photo, the photo belongs to you not the football teams. Have you looked on Google maps for your address? Bet you'll find a photo of it. There are many cemeteries that are publicly owned and therefore you do not need permission to photograph, no different than photographing in the city park. Also, if you are the photographer, yes, the photos are yours.

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  27. Give me a break people! If you don't want others to take your photos then don't post them online. You people crack me up!I have been doing Genealogy for over 20 years and some of you people are plain out selfish.

    Ronald Basgard
    Toledo, OH

    ReplyDelete
  28. Really, it seems rather naive to expect that one would post photos to a widely accessible website and imagine that no one will copy them. It's been a hard lesson for some people to learn: if you don't want anyone to copy your pictures, don't put them on the internet. Once they are out there, you have essentially given up control over that material irrespective of copyright law---unless you are rich enough to afford a long legal battle with low probability of success.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deborah Lafky wrote: "Once they are out there, you have essentially given up control over that material irrespective of copyright law---unless you are rich enough to afford a long legal battle with low probability of success."

      A legal battle is not necessary - filing a DMCA claim works every time. Ancestry (or any hosting service) will remove the infringed material to avoid incurring their own liability.

      Delete
  29. I've been a Find a Grave volunteer for almost five years. I have no problem with others using the photos I've taken of headstones. That's why I take them. Of course I understand that there are some people who are very proprietary (a nice word for "selfish") who don't want their photos used on any other Internet site. I don't understand this way of thinking other than that these people are very controlling and this is their way of exercising power. Unfortunately, there are always those few who sour an otherwise unselfish acts of taking volunteer photos by their selfish acts.
    I make a proclamation here and now, ANYONE CAN USE ANY PHOTOS I TAKE OF GRAVESITES. EVEN THOSE SELFISH, SHORTSIGHTED PEOPLE WHO CALL THEMSELVES VOLUNTEERS.

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  30. Hmmm - I've always asked permission of FAG photographers to use their grave photos on Ancestry, with a credit line. I only create memorials for those who have some connection to our family. Over 300 volunteers have replied and no one has refused. I thought the whole purpose of posting genealogy was to share and to document for future generations - otherwise keep it to yourself.

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  31. I think a lot of people have a misunderstanding as to what Find A Grave is. Find A Grave is NOT a genealogy site. Read the Find A Grave FAQ's. Find A Grave is a grave registration site. The mission of Find A Grave as stated in the FAQ's is "registration of the final disposition" of a deceased person. Although some people may find the info on a Find A Grave memorial to be a helpful resource in their genealogical research, a lot of people who use Find A Grave are not genealogists, and are not the least bit interested in "sharing genealogical information". Not all contributors on Find A Grave are "photo volunteers". Again, read the Find A Grave FAQ’s about what a photo volunteer is and how to become a photo volunteer. I am a Find A Grave member but I have never registered to be a photo volunteer.

    My main reason for being a Find A Grave member is for documenting older cemeteries for preservation purposes. The photos I take are for documentation of MY memorials on Find A Grave, not for ancestry.com. As stated in previous posts, it is the ancestry.com TERMS that many of the photographers object to…and that’s not being selfish. People have many different reasons for being a part of Find A Grave, and many are NOT genealogists, so you are wrong to assume that all members of Find A Grave are photo volunteers and that they post information on the site to “share for genealogical purposes”.

    Seventy five percent of the cemeteries in my area are not owned by a cemetery corporation, so they are not a “business” as poster Kevin implied. They are owned or were owned by specific families - some of which no longer have family members alive to care for them. Some are community cemeteries on property donated by coal companies that no longer exist, and churches that no longer exist, and in towns that no longer exist. Many of these cemeteries are located in rural unincorporated townships and are maintained by non-profit cemetery associations who depend solely on donations to maintain the cemeteries.

    So if you really care about your ancestors, instead of copying and pasting information onto family trees, why not go out and help clean their graves and the cemeteries that they are buried in if they are not under perpetual care (and many older ones are not). This is one of the best ways to honor them. Even if you live across the country…you make trips for other purposes like vacations, etc., right? MY purpose in posting the memorial, the headstone photo, the cemetery, and the directions to the cemetery, along with some pertinent family information on Find A Grave is so that you can identify the deceased as your family member, find their grave, and hopefully help care for their final resting place. It is at the very least your moral responsibility if your ancestor is buried in one of these “orphaned” cemeteries. Don’t leave it to strangers to care for your ancestor’s grave if you or someone in your family is capable of doing so. If you or your family members are not physically able to care for the final resting places of your ancestors, then DONATE to the people who ARE caring for the graves. They need equipment and gasoline to power their equipment, and other items and supplies to maintain those cemeteries, so why don’t some of YOU stop being "selfish and shortsighted" and DONATE your time or your money to help care for your ancestor's grave. If you would show some interest in your ancestor’s final resting place AND take some action to help preserve and maintain it, as I do, then you will be fulfilling MY purpose on Find A Grave, verses YOUR purpose on Ancestry.com or any other genealogy site.

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