Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ethics Question

Public Service Announcement:  Don’t forget to keep an eye on Legacy’s Upcoming Webinars. I am really looking forward to Marian Pierre-Louis’ The Genealogy of Your House on June 5th.  In the past three months I have had two people ask me to research the history of their houses.  I am sure I did everything the hard way and I am hoping to pick up some helpful tips from Marian.    

Tracy asked a great question in the comments section of the Ethics blog post.  She asked:
“I am purely a novice at this, and I have a question...(I hope I don't sound too dumb!) When I do searches online and find information about my family, and save it to where I am doing my family tree, is that considered "stealing?" It's not to be published, just for family history purposes. Wasn't sure exactly what y'all are referring to in the case of copying/stealing.”

This isn't a dumb questions at all!  FACTS are not protected under copyright.  If someone states that Mary Doe was born on 04 May 1854 that is a fact.  You can copy that with no problem at all, HOWEVER, there are four things that you will want to consider.  1) You always need to cite your sources for every piece of information that you add.  If you get information from someone's online tree then that online tree is your source.  2) You really should only be using online trees as a clue to lead you to the original source.  For example, if someone's online tree has a marriage date, you need to get a copy of the actual marriage license instead of just taking that person's word for it. 3) Whenever you find someone on an online tree that pertains to your family you really need to send that person a message/email introducing yourself.  You will get much farther in genealogy if you collaborate with other researchers.  Just copying things off of someone's tree without touching base with them is a bit rude.  4) FACTS are not covered under copyright, but if someone has written some commentary or narrative about the person, that IS covered under copyright even if it is only published online.

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis