Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday Mailbox: Classroom Use of the Ancestry Insider

Dear Insider,

I read at the end of your article: “All content is copyrighted by the Ancestry Insider unless designated otherwise. See for other important legal notices.” I know this sounds dumb, but does this mean that I can't copy and use it as a handout in my Sunday School Class on genealogy? I have to admit that over the last 40 years I have copied articles on genealogy and used them as handouts in my Sunday School Class. I always write on the top where I got it from so they could go and read it for themselves.

Now I read and hear that copying  anything is a no no. The trouble at Find A Grave sure stirred up a lot of trouble for us. I thought that because I was not making any money on it, It would be OK to copy. Now I think my thinking was wrong and I would like you to tell me that I can not copy anything. Or can I?

Thank you,
Gary White

Dear Gary,

I have good news and I have bad news. The good news is, you have my permission to make copies of my articles for your non-commercial classroom use. See the notice at the bottom of To quote, "For content copyrighted by the Ancestry Insider, permission is granted for non-commercial republication as long as you give credit and you link back to the original." (Note the use of “non-commercial” rather than “non-profit.”)

The bad news is that there is no easy answer to your question. Some mistakenly believe that fair use allows anyone to copy anything for non-profit, educational use. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Circular 21, "Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians," from the U.S. Copyright Office discusses this very complex issue.

It may be easier to contact authors than it is to understand the circular. I suggest that you ask authors for general permission to use their articles as handouts. If they are not comfortable with general permission, seek permission for individual articles.

--The Insider

1 comment:

  1. Especially useful in Circular 21 is the Agreement on Guidelines for Classroom Copying found on pages 6 and 7. No normal person could understand most of the publication, but these Guidelines in a Committee Report make it clear that the legislators and representatives of the publishing industry agreed on the written language allowing individual teachers on their own initiative to copy such materials as described in the quantities described as part of their teaching process. Thanks for sharing the copy of Circular 21!

    Mike St. Clair


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