Are You Breaking the Law?

Here is an interesting article discussing the ways genealogists may accidentally break piracy laws. From Tampa Bay Online.

Genealogists must take care not to become pirates

By SHARON TATE MOODY | Special correspondent

The Internet went a little wacky a couple of weeks ago, when Congress seemed on the road to considering the Stop Online Piracy Act proposed by Rep. Lamar S. Smith.

Those backing the bill said it was intended to protect intellectual property online. The other side felt the proposal threatened free speech and gave law enforcement too much power in shutting down domains. Wikipedia basically shut its sight down for a period of time in protest. Smith has backed up and is reconsidering his proposal.

But what does this have to do with genealogy? Few made the connection between the controversial bill and what they post on Ancestry and various other genealogical venues that promote sharing family history research.

Truly I doubt that Smith and others had family researchers in mind when they proposed SOPA, but it gives us cause to pause and consider the underlying “theft” issues at work here.

Many people violate American copyright law with their genealogical postings, but few think of themselves as pirates (hence the title “Piracy” in Smith’s bill).

Click here to read the full article.


3 thoughts on “Are You Breaking the Law?”

  1. Miss Moody claims that if you don’t own the original photograph you can’t publish it. This is not true. If the photograph was taken prior to 1923 than the photograph falls into public domain.Just because you own an orginal photograph from the 1800’s you have no copyright protection on the photograph. There are historical societies and individuals who seem to think they have copyright on old photographs when in fact they do not.

  2. Also as with any website, you can post/publish a photo but if you’re asked to take it down by the person it is of then you must.
    Which is why people can take random photos or vacation photos with people in them.

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