Casefile Clues

13 February 2013

Are They Encouraging the Use of FindAGrave Photos?

[note: I'm not a lawyer and I don't play one on the internet]

Ancestry.com made a post on their Facebook FanPage that concerns me. Ancestry.com contains links to FindAGrave submissions--making users aware of additional information which is not necessarily bad. But the post on Facebook seems to be a little more than driving users towards more information. Correct me if I am wrong, but it appears that the suggestion is being made that Ancestry.com users add photographs they find on FindAGrave to their online trees. And I didn't see any suggestion made about getting permission.

The image below contains a screen shot of the post today on Ancestry.com's Facebook FanPage.
The link in the post (shown below with my editorializing in black on the image) contains a link to the Missouri FindAGrave "database" on Ancestry.com. I've obscured the tombstone photograph because I didn't take the picture. The "X" over the "post" and the words in black on the image are mine.


Screen shot of post made on Ancestry.com's corporate FanPage on Facebook, 13 February 2013

"Taking a photograph means using an actual camera. Don't "take" a photograph without requesting permission first, copyright matters." 

I suppose there are people who don't care if people use their FindAGrave photo submissions without requesting permission first.

I've posted images on this blog from FindAGrave---but I request permission from the person who took the picture first and I cite them when posting the image. Isn't that what we are supposed to do? I think it is. Crediting the volunteers who take pictures of stones encourages them (I hope at least) to take more pictures. I also realize that there are people (myself included) who are unable to travel and that the ability  to see pictures of their ancestors' stones is enhanced by FindAGrave. Greatly enhanced. I'm not opposed to FindaGrave.I use it myself. I love it. I just wouldn't use images from that site publicly without getting permission and giving credit.

What a person does in their "private" tree is, technically their own business and probably falls under "fair use." I'm not saying stop using the pictures privately.  But what about public trees? And what about publishing pictures you did not take in your own blog posts? That's using something that you did not create without getting permission from the person who made it.

We'll hopefully have an update to this post, but if I were an unexperienced user, this post would encourage me to use the photos in my database however I wanted--publicly or privately.

And public use without acknowledgement or permission is not I prefer to do.

FindaGrave's FAQ on copyright is here.

Ancestry.com's Terms and Conditions are here.