OH OH MidwestAncestree has been bad!

MidwestAncestree sent a note to the Ancestry Insider a few weeks ago about the use of FindAGrave photos in Ancestry.com trees.

Please go to Ancestry Insider's blog for all the dirt!  


  1. Just out of curiosity, are you "Joanie" or "Joanie's student"?

  2. I'm Joanie. I have taught Intro to family history classes for 15 years. And in my defense, I do document my sources fairly well! I just won't be using pics from FindAGrave without express written permission. I encourage my students to give back by contributing to findagrave, coloradogravestones.org, iowagravestones.org and similar sites. We visited an LDS family history center to see how indexers volunteer their time and the challenges they face. We are starting our new year of classes with many outside speakers and I'll be sure to bring up this topic.

    I don't like the practice of 'name collecting', I think it is important to research every person you add to your tree...and document those sources. FindAGrave is a source, a good source.

    I would suggest people who don't want their photos on Findagrave copied to put a big old mark across them saying 'copyrighted' so it is unusable. I don't get why they go to all the trouble to publish to a public site and yet don't want people to use the info they posted. But I will respect their wishes. I have no desire nor intent to 'steal' from them. I'm not a professional photographer (although I'm sure people look at my pictures and wish I took BETTER ones!)

    One person suggested people link to the findagrave site, however, places like iowagravestones.org consider THAT theft: "HOT LINKING PROHIBITED: Direct linking to the graphics on this web site is prohibited. This is considered "Hot Linking" and in effect you are stealing bandwidth from this web site. Images used on your site must be saved to your computer or server and not referenced in your html code to the images located on our server. Embedding images located on any domain or sub-domain belonging to IOWAGRAVESTONES.ORG from your html documents is considered bandwidth theft." From this page: http://iowagravestones.org/terms.php

    So, the important conclusion - read the fine print on every site.

    No good deed goes unpunished. I just "unshared" my trees and made sure they were all the private-non searachable" kind of tree. That should also prevent future problems.

  3. In your letter to Ancestry Insider, you wrote “As part of my research I [find headstones on]findagrave and put the photo and a link on my private tree. I must have a couple hundred photos, all with the required documentation.” You are speaking of sourcing, but the actual “required documentation” should have been express written permission. I’m glad you will now be addressing the topic in your classes – and, hopefully, give your students a basic understanding of copyright as well as encourage them to read “terms of use” documents.

    As to your suggestion about marking the photos, why should anyone do that (even if Find A Grave allowed it)? The wrongful behavior is not the photographer’s but those who take without asking – and, in the so doing (adding to their family trees), they have violated the policies of both sites, given other Ancestry users permission to copy it, again without asking, and given Ancestry the corporation permission to redistribute however they choose. On the other hand, the photographer followed the policies of the site they are using. I’m not going to claim my photos are masterpieces, but some of them are pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. However, all of them are my creation. As such, it is my prerogative to decide if to publish them, where, and whether or not to allow re-publication. Just as it is your prerogative to publish your words here in your blog – would it be okay for someone else to publish them under their name?

    I was not in any way suggesting “HotLinking”. I suggested using Ancestry’s Web Links which is a text link – just like your link above to the Ancestry Insider blog. That does not steal bandwidth nor violate copyrights.


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