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Archiver > ROOTS > 2000-10 > 139338

From: Mike Goad <>
Subject: [ROOTS-L] Re: Sharing Family History
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2000 21:16:36 -0500
References: <>
In-Reply-To: <004001c038fd$5999b1e0$>

At 08:17 AM 10/18/00 -0400, Joanne Hunt wrote:
>Seeing my work online doesn't bother me. but seeing it under someone else's
>name and copywrited irks the Heck out of me.
>To all those who think they own their research, imagine your local Town
>Clerk copywriting the Town's births, deaths and marriages. Well, after all,
>she wrote the book. Only our comments, personal notes, family anecdotes and
>manner of presentation are our own. A gedcom is a list of facts. Don't
>include anything in one that you do not wish to Aunt Tilly's

A lot of what people claim to be copyrighted really isn't.

A work's copyright protection can only be extended to those parts of a work
that are original to the author. When the author clothes facts or ideas
with an original description or other original collection of words, then
this written expression may be protected. However, the underlying facts or
ideas may be copied by others, but not the precise words used to present
them. If a compiler adds no written expression and only lets the facts
speak for themselves, the protection of copyright may only be extended to
the originality of the selection and/or arrangement, if there is any
One aspect of this that is often misunderstood is that the copyright of
a work in no way can have an impact on the status of pre-existing material.
If the work contains information that is in the public domain or is
copyrighted by another individual, then that portion of the work is still
in the public domain or still covered by the copyright of the other
individual, as the case may be. This is a very important point in
genealogy. The majority of information in any genealogical work is in the
public domain by virtue of being facts or presumed facts. The copyright
status of the work that they are contained in does not remove them from
being in the public domain. The facts contained in existing compilations,
which is what most genealogical works are, "may be freely copied because
copyright protects only the elements that owe their origin to the compiler
-- the selection, coordination, and arrangements of facts."

Failure to properly attribute sources is plagiarism. Plagiarism comes
from a latin word for "kidnapper." Using the ideas or words of others
without acknowledging the source is plagiarism. This is true even if the
ideas of someone else are paraphrased or summarized. In scholarly research,
plagiarism is considered unethical and dishonest.
Copyright is concerned with more than properly crediting sources.
Excessive use of another's original work, even if the source is properly
acknowledged, may be a copyright infringement. Plagiarism is abuse of
ideas and words from the work of someone else. Copyright is only concerned
with original expression. Ideas and words alone cannot be copyrighted
without originality.

(Please note that the text in this message is copyrighted. Sharing with
others is allowed so long as the source is properly cited. All other rights
under copyright law are reserved.

Mike Goad
Check out for other genealogy
related resources such as copyright issues, DAR Patriot Index lookups,
Cousins Cross-reference table and more.

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