Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Take a deep breath and relax...

Legal or not, by initially charging for content created by other people Ancestry has not endeared themselves to many members of the genealogical community. I want people to find my webpages. I want people to use that information. I'm not going to "take it down" or install a robots.txt file to prohibit them or any other search engine from providing links to my site. That would be stupid and defeat the purpose of publishing it in the first place. The problem I had was that the pages, as they were first displayed, were made to appear as though they were content on and the link to the "live" page was not obvious. The description that Ancestry provides for this "database" is misleading and the url for the web page is not displayed anywhere within the context of the detail for the "hit" which still makes it appear as though it is their content. Has this been a big blunder on Ancestry's part? Sure. Am I going to cancel my subscription? Probably Not. Will I renew my subscription? Not sure.

The way I understand copyright is that currently anything that is published (whether on a blog, website, book, magazine, etc.) is under copyright whether it has been officially registered or not. So my work is under copyright. Big Deal. The cost of registering your work under copyright is prohibitive. Proving "loss of monetary gain" is nearly impossible. I'm not going to be able to stop anyone from taking it, whether that be a big company or an individual. The only way I could stop it is by not publishing it in the first place.

A Creative Commons license has been added to this blog, prominently, in the upper right corner. I've done this not to stop someone from using my content but to make them at least think about how they will use it. And, hopefully they will use proper source citations and attribute what they do use to me. The license also, supposedly, prohibits use of my content for monetary gain. Will it stop someone or some company from doing so? Probably not. Will it give me recourse to take action if they do so? Not sure. But it makes me feel a bit better for having it displayed prominently.

And why am I researching my family history? Not for myself - for my ancestors, so that they might not be forgotten - for my relatives, so that they will know something of their history - for others unrelated to me so that they might get some insight into what life was like for the common person in different times. So why would I want to stop publishing? Why would I want to prohibit search engines from finding my stuff?

My first post on this subject Is this Fair Use? shows some screen shots before Ancestry changed it to a "free" database.

Some additional posts on the subject:

Lets take something positive away from this fiasco. Volunteer with FamilySearch Indexing so their content becomes available sooner. Contribute. Don't stop publishing.

*** Update 10:25 a.m. ***
Kimberly Powell has posted The Legality of Caching with some additonal interesting thoughts on this new tool in Ancestry's arsenal.

*** Additional Links Added at 6:40 p.m. ***


Janice said...


You did a very nice job following and updating this story. Just thought you'd like to know.


The footnoteMaven said...


You really put a lot of work into collecting every thing that transpired in the blogging community regarding Ancestry.

Yours is the best link list around.

And thank you for my little allegory link as well.


Becky said...

Thanks Janice and fM. It was a challenge keeping up with everyone but I thought it was important and worth the time it took.

I don't know about y'all but I'm going to increase my indexing efforts with FamilySearch!!!!