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10 Big Myths About Copyright

28 Jun 2021 4:52 PM | Anonymous

In recent weeks I have received a number of e-mail messages concerning copyrights. Many of the messages are along the lines of, "I gave my genealogy information to another person and now he has published it online. Can he legally do that without my permission?"

I am no lawyer and certainly am not a position to offer legal advice. However, I did find a great Web site that gives detailed information about copyrights, especially as to how copyright laws work in an online world. The information presented refers primarily to United States laws. The site is not genealogy-specific, but the information there does apply to genealogy data as well as all sorts of other information.

To learn more about copyright laws in the digital age, read Brad Templeton’s "10 Big Myths About Copyright Explained" at:


  • 29 Jun 2021 8:01 AM | Anonymous
    I don't think this article fully reflects the issue you referred to. I don't think everyone is complaining about the use of names, dates & places as much as those who may take your WHOLE file and post it online when you haven't yet done so yourself. Perhaps you have shared your file so they can access what and those that relate to them. This happened to me many years ago and now it is 'out there' with some horrid mistakes from early work that I have no control over. Result, I learned not to share with trust but only in bits that I know that person is free to use as they see fit.
    My message to others is "copier beware" the joy of the genealogy hobby is the chase of primary sources, not the easy 'grab it because it came from an index' as not all "John Smith's" of the same or similar location and time are the right ones for your family.
    To sum up: Treat the work of others as you would want your work to be treated. This is not all about copyright but respect for fellow researchers.
    Link  •  Reply
    • 29 Jun 2021 8:14 AM | Anonymous
      I've been a copyright researcher since the 1970s and Templeton's list is a good starting point. Also check out the revamped U.S. Copyright Office website ( and Cornell University's Copyright Public Domain Chart (
      Link  •  Reply

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