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From: "Tina S. Vickery" <>
Subject: [BOARD] Motion 2008/09-14: 'Copyright Information Natl. Page'
Date: Mon, 13 Apr 2009 21:00:56 -0500

Motion 2008/09-14: 'Copyright Information Natl. Page'

Presented by Mike St. Clair and seconded by Larry Flesher, 'Copyright Information Natl. Page' dated April 13, 2009
is numbered Motion 2008/09-14.

Motion reads:

"I move that we approve, by general consent, a replacement for the
current copyright page located at:

The replacement page should be worded exactly as the current draft
located at:

with the addition of the first paragraph shown in the text version of
the proposed page below, beginning with "Copyright is a complex area of
law," which addition should be in bold.

I further move that we instruct the USGENWEB webmaster to consider and
adjust if necessary, the html markup presently shown on the current
draft page.

Mike St. Clair

******* Proposed Wording ********


Copyright is a complex area of law and if one has doubts you can check
the details that are available at: The
following are some general guidelines that should be considered.

General Statement

It is vital for genealogists/family historians to understand copyright
laws, not only for the protection of others' rights, but to ensure that
they retain the rights to their own work. However, it is also important
for us to remember that our work consists in large part of the discovery
and reporting of preexisting material. We can only copyright the
material we create. We can not copyright the material we discover.

Regardless of the legalities, the USGenWeb Project does not want to
offend our many friends, whether professional or volunteer, who work
tirelessly for little profit to publish reference sources. Let us not
make these people our enemies -- we want them as our partners. Because
the rights of authors and the purpose of the USGenWeb Project to freely
share genealogical information online may sometimes conflict, The
USGenWeb Project has established these guidelines and policies which we
believe reflect the general state of U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.

The 5 Golden Rules of Copyright

Materials published before 1923 are absolutely safe.
In the U.S., facts (data) are always public domain and may be copied
without permission.
Inclusion of preexisting material in a new work does not change the
copyright status of the preexisting material.
If the use of original material created by someone else diminishes the
market value of that work, then their copyright may have been violated.
Getting written (not email) permission from the author/publisher of a
copyrighted work is the surest way to protect yourself and the USGW
Project against claims of copyright infringement.

Copyright Law - An Overview

The Internet and Copyright - The internet is nothing more than another
method of publication. Orginal wording appearing on a web page has the
same copyright protection as any other creative work and cannot be
reproduced without permission, unless under the provisions of "fair use".

What does copyright protect - Copyright protects "original works of
authorship." In 1884, the U.S. Supreme Court defined "author" as "he to
whom anything owes its orign; originator; maker." and goes on to explain
that copyright is limited to "original intellectual conceptions of the
author," (Burrow-Giles v. Sarony, 111 U.S. 53). These definitions have
stood the test of time and were referenced again in the 1991 decision in
Feist v. Rural (499 U.S. 340) when the Court ruled that facts are always
discovered, not created, and can not be copyrighted by anyone. Thus, in
a factual compilation or database, copyright protects only those
components of the compilation that are original to the author, i.e.
selection, coordination and/or arrangement, not the facts themselves.
Also, for compilation copyright to subsist, there must be something
creative about the selection and/or arrangement. An alphabetical or
chronological arrangement is a standard way of arranging data and can
not be copyrighted.

However, if your U.S. State or County has a substantial immigrant
population, and you are considering using a City Directory or other
database published in their country of origin, remember that the law of
other countries may differ from U.S. law. Most members of the European
Union as well as Canada, recognize "Database Right" which does protect a
factual compilation, although the protection usually has a shorter
duration than that for original, creative works.

Copyright Law Before 1978 - Prior to the Copyright Act of 1976, a work
published with notice was copyrighted for 28 years and could be renewed
for another 28 years, for a total of 56 years. When the new law went
into effect in 1978, that copyright protection was extended to a total
of 75 years (subsequently extended to 95 years) for all works currently
covered by copyright. Prior to 1978, it was necessary to include notice
of the claim of copyright on published copies, and to promptly register
the work for protection. If a work was distributed (published) without a
valid copyright notice (the © symbol or the word "copyright", the date,
and the name of the author), it became public domain upon publication.
Under the pre 1978 law, there was no protection of an author's rights in
a work until it was published, or registered as an unpublished work .
"Published" means distributed to the public, not that a publishing
company printed and distributed the work.

The Current Copyright Law - Since Jan. 1, 1978, everything an author
(including you and me) has created is protected by copyright the minute
it is written. The 1976 Act also allowed the author of a work published
after January 1, 1978 without a valid notice to correct the error by
registering the work within 5 years of publication. The Berne Convention
Implementation Act of 1989 made both notice and registration unnecessary
for works first published after March 1, 1989. However, registration
provides prima facie evidence of copyright and is usually required to
file suit in the courts. A copyright notice alerts others that the work
is copyrighted and prevents a defense of innocent infringement.
Registering a copyright (2008) costs $35.00 (on line) and $45.00 (paper

Duration of Copyright - Works created on or after January 1, 1978 are
automatically protected upon creation for the author's life, plus 70
years after the author's death. In the case of "a joint work prepared by
two or more authors who did not work for hire," the term lasts for 70
years after the last surviving author's death. For works made for hire,
and for anonymous and pseudonymous works, the duration of copyright is
95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter.

Works created before January 1, 1978, but not published or registered by
that date have been automatically brought under the statute and usually
are protected for the same term as works created after that date (life
of the author plus 70 or 95/120 years). Works in this category that were
published on or before December 31, 2002, are protected until at least
December 31, 2047.

Works originally created and published with notice, or registered before
January 1, 1978 were protected for an initial term of 28 years from the
date copyright was secured. During the 28th year of the first term, the
copyright was eligible for renewal for an additional 28 years. The
Copyright Act of 1976, The Copyright Renewal Act of 1992, and the
subsequent Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 extended the
renewal term for copyrights subsisting on January 1, 1978 to 67 years
for a total term of protection of 95 years. The Copyright Renewal Act of
1992 amended the 1976 Copyright Act to provide for automatic renewal of
the term of copyrights secured between January 1, 1964, and December 31,
1977. While most copyrights originally secured between 1923 and 1951
were not renewed, due diligence is necessary to verify the current
copyright status of works for which copyright was originally secured
after 1922.

What is Public Domain -

* Any published and/or registered work for which the copyright term
has expired, or for which copyright was never secured.
* Unadorned facts (data) such as names, dates, locations,
occupations, military service, etc. including those transcribed from
tombstones, although some personal and identifying information for
living people may be protected by privacy laws, either Federal or State.
* Works created by officials or employees of the U.S. Government in
the course of their duties, e.g. the Federal Census. Note that some
States do claim copyright to some of their publications.
* Works consisting entirely of information that is common property
and containing no original authorship, e.g. blank forms; short phrases;
names, titles and slogans; lists of weights and measures, etc.

What is "Fair Use" of Copyrighted Material - U.S.Code, Title 17 does not
provide definitions of what is and is not fair use of copyrighted
materials. Instead, it lists four criteria:

* The purpose and character of the use.
Does the use serve simply as a substitute for the original, or
does it add something new with a further purpose such as scholarship,
comment or criticism?
* The nature of the copyrighted work.
Is the original primarily a factual work, or is it mostly original
expression? Factual works have more limited protection since there are
often only a few ways to express a particular fact.
* The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to
the entire work.
There are no fixed rules for the number of words or paragraphs
that constitute fair use. The relation of the quantity must be
considered relative to the size of the book or article. The quality of
the material, its importance to the work, must also be considered.
* Effect of the use on the market for, or value, of the work.
Even if your use is not-for-profit, if your use impacts the market
value of another's protected expression, your use is probably not fair use.

Using Copyrighted Material - One way to avoid infringing copyright is to
paraphrase material, i.e. to put it into your own words. You should,
however, always give credit to the source and refrain from extensive use
of paraphrasing or indirect quotes. The copyright law itself, under the
fair use provision, protects the users' right to copy copyrighted
material in certain situations . The copying of a copyrighted work for
scholarship or research, for example, is not an infringement of
copyright protection. Furthermore, you are not restricted from
publishing (or otherwise selling) your scholarship or research. In
general, if you republish something exactly the way it looked when first
published, you have to worry about copyright laws unless the work is
over 95 years old. Regardless of whether copyright laws apply to your
situation, The USGenWeb Project urges you to cite your sources in all
genealogy work. It makes it easier for the next person to verify what
you are doing, and indicates scholarly research .

Lookups - Folks doing lookups should remember that authors have a
legitimate right to compensation, and a well-done lookup should include
telling folks how to buy the book when it's of significant value to
their research. Authors need to understand that genealogists have a
right to look before buying and that lookups can represent a marketing
tool rather than a loss of sales. To protect The USGenWeb Project as a
whole, and each of us as participants in the project, you should remove
all lookup offers for which you do not have written permission or have
not determined that the source is in the Public Domain and therefore
requires no permission.

Where to get Permission - The publisher is the best place to write for
permission to quote from a book, poem, song or magazine article. Ask
your reference librarian for help locating the publisher's address if it
is not printed in the book or magazine. If the publisher is no longer in
business, try locating the author in Who's Who in Literature at your
local library.

Fees for Permission - There is usually no fee for permission to quote
from copyrighted materials.

Reprints and Facsimile Copies - Once material enters the Public Domain
it may be republished or copied in part or in total by anyone.
A reprint of Public Domain material may be copyrighted. However the
copyright only applies to any new material (introduction, summary,
tables, index, etc.) which was added to the original. The original
material is still in the Public Domain and can be used freely. Contact
the reprint publisher and/or author if you have a question on what is
original and what is new.

LDS filmed books - What counts here is whether the original work is
copyrighted. The LDS copies works on which the copyright has expired,
but also may have received permission to copy and redistribute a work
still in copyright.

Copyright Information Internet Sites

U. S. Copyright Office Home Page <>;
10 Big Myths about copyright explained
Copyright Fundamentals for Genealogy
Museum Computer Network-Intellectual Property Resources
Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States (duration of
copyright protection) <>;
The Copyright Website (real world practical information with specialized
information for webmasters as well as general info)
Copyright Information for Educators, University of Washington

Pat Asher
Sunni Bloyd
Jett Hanna
John Rigdon
Jeff Weaver
John G. West
Megan Zurawicz
USGenWeb Project information can be found at:";

Are there any objections to this motion?

Tina Vickery
National Coordinator
USGenWeb Project

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