It Pays to Read the Ts&Cs

Ts & Cs (Terms and Conditions). You know that little checkbox we click saying that we “agree to the Terms and Conditions” usually without reading anything. It is important. And here’s why.

An issue arose earlier this week where someone on Facebook asked “if anyone who has a subscription to a certain Big-Pay-Site can do a look up for me?” Sounds innocent enough. And we’ve all seen it many times.

While I’m totally all for helping out, doing lookups and so on – Facebook groups are great for that, I was reminded about a blog post that The Legal Genealogist did stating how ethically wrong it is to do so on Big-Pay-Sites, so I put the link up as a response, and boy did that cause controversy.

I was accused of not wanting to help, and told how rude it was to put that up, and that the post is ‘old and isn’t relevant now’ … I’m still not sure what that means, because it most certainly is, and that my membership to the group ‘was currently being discussed’. I wasn’t selling anything, I wasn’t being rude, I was helping a fellow group member by educating them that it was wrong to ask someone who has a subscription to do a look up for you.

I urge anyone member or non-member to any Big-Pay-Sites, to look at the Ts & Cs, they’re on the home page of each of them – right down the bottom. And you’ll see it stated there that you are allowed to use the site for your ‘personal use only’, and if found to be using the site wrongly, they reserve the right reneg your membership.

I get that not everyone can afford a membership. But that still doesn’t make it right ask for a lookup! There are libraries and societies that have access to the Big-Pay-Sites. The sites themselves often have free weekends and trial periods. So make the most of those opportunities, but don’t ask for free lookups.

I’m sure some who read this won’t agree with me. I expect that. But remember I’m not the one who wrote their Tc&Cs.  I’m just a user who’s abiding by them, and trying to educate others who do lookups on Big-Pay-Sites, that they are breaching their Terms of Service.

Then there’s the copyright issue about putting images up publicly from their site. But that’s a whole different issue which I’m not going to get into here.

Anyway I urge to you take a moment to read The Legal Genealogist’s post “Just say no” and you’ll realise WHY you shouldn’t do lookups from Big-Pay-Sites.

10 Responses to “It Pays to Read the Ts&Cs”

  1. Excellent point, Lonetester! ‘Reading and following the Terms and Conditions is important for our big and little memberships or relationships with societies, organizations and companies. Even some Facebook groups have conditions! Sorry you had to take the flack though.

    • Alona says:

      Thanks Diane. No drama about copping flack, I was just suprised that even the admins were oblivious to the law, and therefore sided against me. Hopefully little by little we can educate others about it though.

  2. John Sparrow says:

    Well said. You are correct.

  3. Fran says:

    Go girl! Looks like you are taking it better than I would. I have been thinking about this FB occurance since I read it. It has annoyed me. 1. The mean things some wrote. 2. The ignorance of many that got involved. Shame on them. While is unfortunate for some that they struggle with basic laws about stealing IP the followup messages volunteering to break T&C are far worse.
    If any one is banned for doing the legal and right thing I would not want to be part of that group.
    On the other side my friends discussing this wondered if any supporters of breaking T&C worked in a bank and had free samples to share…….of course not. Xx

    • Alona says:

      Thankyou Fran. I liked Pauleen’s analogy of someone buying a cake, but then someone else wants some of it, without paying for it of course! Not going to happen, right! Anyway it seems to have created a discussion, and hopefully some good comes out of it all.

  4. Judy Webster says:

    Congratulations on speaking out about this, Alona. I’m sure many people appreciated your explanation. As for the others… well, let’s just say that they’re a lost cause. Don’t take any notice of what they say.

  5. Anna says:

    Not to mention, from a purely practical point of view, that any pay site relies on its subscriptions to keep adding records. We all loose if that doesn’t happen.
    I had to gently remind a reader of my blog of that fact this week. I did appreciate her heart was in the right place when she offered to do a search for me, but I couldn’t accept.
    Those admins need a lesson in help vs. enable. Good for you for speaking out, something I admit that I have been reluctant to do in FB groups.

  6. Eirene42 says:

    Surely “doing it for personal use” means you can’t do it for commercial use. That is what that type of statement usually means. i.e. You can’t work as a professional genie researcher and have a personal account, you would need to have business type account (which would cost more). i.e.

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