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Open Thread Thursday – Copyright and Genealogy

open thread

This week’s topic for Open Thread Thursday is:

Have you ever encountered a situation involving copyright issues when either posting about your genealogy research, using research resources, etc.?

Have you ever had to send a “cease and desist” notice to someone violating your copyright?

Have you ever had questions as to whether an item was copyrighted or the copyright was still in effect?

What about orphaned works (where you can’t determine the copyright owner)?

Have you ever had another researcher refuse to share information due to copyright concerns?

Post your responses in the comments or at a post on your own genealogy blog and place the link here in the comments.


Thanks to a jumbled mess of copyright laws, at least here in the United States, it isn’t easy to determine what is in the public domain, what is copyrighted and how and if you can use certain items in blog posts, publications and other communication methods.

Thanks to genealogy colleague Dee Dee King, CG, I’ve been using the following chart to determine the copyright status of certain works:  Even so, it still can be quite a maze to figure out when it is acceptable to reproduce and item and in which way so that it falls within the Fair Use method of usage.

Don’t forget to check out our Resources for Blog Copyright and Content Theft here at GeneaBloggers. While many of the resources focus on blogging, many will still help you understand copyright and genealogy.


This is a great topic for this week’s Open Thread Thursday! And please, if you have a topic you’d like to see discussed among your genealogy blogging colleagues, please contact us and we’ll take it under consideration.

©2011, copyright Thomas MacEntee

4 thoughts on “Open Thread Thursday – Copyright and Genealogy

  1. This was a concern in the digitization the past fifty years of the Austin Genealogical Society Quarterly. Would the Society be violating authors’ copyrights by scanning and uploading the full run? The conclusion we reached after some research and consultation is that the process was archival in nature, and thus allowed. The original authors retained copyright to their individual articles while the Society held copyright over the collected work. The Society could reproduce each issue in its entirety but could not reprint individual articles or a new collection of articles.

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