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Forums: Index > Watercooler > Copyright questions



Genealogists are voracious consumers of information. We also have a need to pass that information on in the form of our genealogical findings, and a concommittant need to show where we got our information from. (That latter need is often ignored by many genealogists, often making it difficult to figure out how they figured something out.)

Sometimes we would like to include our information sources within our articles on the Wiki. We may want to include transciptions of wills, marriage records, or portions of certain publications that relate to our ancestors. That raises questions of copyright. Here are some specific questions that I'd like to know the answers to

1. If someone prepares a compilation of wills for a particular county, and that information is posted on the net, can you extract a particular will from that electronic source, and place it in an article you have prepared about your great great grandfather?
2. If you want to show the lay of the land for the location where your great great grandfather lived,
can you insert a map from GoogleMaps, or say Topozone? Can you take one of their maps, modify it to meet your needs, and post it into an article?
Does modifying such a map make it independent of any copyright that Google (for example) might have?
In the case of USGS maps, since these are government property, does Google have any right to restrict your use of these maps, even if you immediate source is Google?
3. If Ancestry, or GoogleBooks, prepares an electronic copy of a work now out of copyright, can you copy portions of that elctronic version of the work into an article? Is it copyright protected?
4. When the USGenWeb, or other genealogical sites post an item on one of its county pages, an uncopyrighted will for example, it includes a statement about how you may use the item, and what you have to do if you want to place it on another site. They often say something like "you have to secure permission from the person who transcribed this from the original".
Are you so required?
Does their "publication" of the will renew its copyright?
Was it ever in copyright in the first place?

Inquiring minds want to know. Bill 18:46, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

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