Copyright. Yes, it’s that word again. The word few like the hear. The word that gets me kicked out of Facebook groups. But the word copyright is an important one.
Copyright is there for a reason. Copyight is a law that is there to protect the work of the author or compiler.
But before I get into that, let me just say that there’s no doubt that genealogists for the most part, are a wonderful bunch of generous people who love to help each other out. Be it on research advice, cemetery visits, or lookups.
Research advice, fine. Cemetery visits, transcriptions or headstone photos fine. But lookups can be an issue.
The issue of doing lookups from big-pay-sites has been mentioned before, and you can read all about that here, as has the general copyright issue before which you can read here. But another copyright issue has come up that needs to be addressed, and that is offering lookups from books.
In theory doing a lookup from a book sounds fine. You have a book, you offer to do lookups, and respond back to those who ask with details of yes/no they’re in there. But this is the digital age, and what I saw on Facebook was someone offering to do lookups from a number of books (probably all out of print, but all still in copyright). But to help out fellow researchers, the person had kindly photographed the entire index of each book and pasted it online.
Like it or not, that breaches copyright law.
Several in fact.
But not only that, the person then posted photographs of EVERY page that anyone was interested in.
That breaches copyright.
Copyright is there for a reason. It is to protect the author’s work. And in Australian Copyright Law, works are protected for up to 70 years after the author’s death.
So while this person was being helpful in offering lookups, it is wrong to do it that way.
Offering to do lookups is fine (and very admirable), but don’t put up images of the indexes, and pages. And if you do supply a copy or image of any page definitely don’t put it out there publicly. But ideally, why not refer the person to the local library or society, afterall that’s what they are there for.
I’m not going to name names, or Facebook groups. I’ve simply chosen to write this in the hope that it will educate others on the law.
For more on Australian copyright law, head on over to the Australian Copyright Council website.