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.