Copyrights & Information Statements

General Information Statement

Genealogists and/or Family Historians need to understand the copyright laws, to ensure the rights of others and your own work are protected and retained. However, it is important to keep in mind that the work others and yours are consists of a larger part of the discovering and recording of pre-existing materials, resources, etc. Copyright will and can protect the material others and you have created, not the materials that was discovered from.

Nevertheless, wished to keep within the boundaries of the copyright laws. No offend are intended for those professionals or volunteers, who work effortlessly and tirelessly for a profit to publish reference sources. want to work together with them and abide by the rights of the author. But conflict can emerge when the patrons of are freely to share genealogical information online. The mission of have established these basic guidelines and policies that can reflect the general statement of the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S. Code).

Golden Rules on Copyrights

Copyright Laws - Overview

Internet and Copyright Statement---the Internet is another method of publication resources, via online. Any original works that appears on a web page have the same copyright protection as any published creative works has and cannot be reproduced without the permission of the author or creator of that web page, unless it is stated under the provision of "fair use."

What Does Copyright Protect?---copyright protects the "original works of authorship." In the 1884 U.S. Supreme Court case, they had defined "author" as the owner of "anything owes its origin; originator; maker," but limited to the "original intellectual conceptions of the author." (Burrow-Giles vs. Sarony, 111 U.S. 53). This definition stood until it was tested into the late twentieth century. In 1991, Feist vs. Rural (499 U.S. 340) stated that facts are always discovered, but not created, and cannot be copyrighted by anyone, except for factual compilation or database. These assemblages are copyright protected in compontents of the compilation of the original author, i.e. selection, coordination, and/or arrangement, not the facts themselves. In order for the compilation copyright to persevere, the author must be creative about the selection and/or arrangement of their collected facts. An alphabetical or chronological is a standardized way of arranging data, but cannot be copyrighted.

Copyright Law before 1978---prior to the Copyright Act of 1976, any published works were noted under the 28 years right law and could renew for another 28 years, for a total of 56 years. However, in 1978 when the law went into effect that copyright protection was extended to 75 years, but, subsequently extended to 95 years for all works currently covered under the copyright law. Any publications prior to 1978 had to include a "notice of the claim of copyright" and " registered the works for protection. If, the publication are without copyright notice, i.e. © symbol or word "Copyright" with year, and the name of the author have to be printed, it becomes Public Domain upon publication. Prior to the 1978 law, there was not protection of the author's rights in his work until it was published or registered as an unpublished work. "Published," means a distribution of works to the public, not the company who printed and distributed the work.

Current Copyright Law---since January 1, 1978, the copyright law protects every author, including you and me, who have created works, the minute it is written. In the Copyright Act of 1976 the author are allowed to published his works after January 1, 1978 without a valid notice to correct the error by registering the works within 5 years of publication. The Berne Convention Implementation Act of 1989 had made both notice and registration unnecessary in first publication after March 1, 1989. However, registeration provides prima facie evidence of copyright and it is required when filing a lawsuit. A copyright notice alerts others the work is copyrighted and prevent an infringement. As of 2008, registering for to copyright your work costs $30 (online form) or $45 (paper form).

Duration of Copyright Work---any created works on or after January 1, 1978 are indisputable copyrighted for the duration of the author's life, plus 70 years after his or her death. In case of "a joint work prepared by two or more authors who did not work for hire," the terms will be extended for 70 years of the last surviving author's death. For works that were "made for hire," anonymous, pseudonymous works, the duration of copyright is 95 years (under publication) or 120 years (under creation), whichever is shorter.

Any works that have not been published or registered before January 1, 1978 are automatically brought under the statute and are protected under the same terms mentioned above. Nevertheless, any works under this statute that were published on or before December 31, 2002 will be protected until December 21, 2047.

Original works with publication or creation notices or registration before January 1, 1978 have been protected for the initial term of 28 years from the date of copyright is secured. Upon the anniversary of the 28th year of its first term, the copyright is eligible for renewal for additional 28 years. In the Copyright Act of 1976, the Copyright Renewal Act of 1992, and the subsequent Sonne Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 extends the renewal term of copyrights from January 1, 1978 to 67 years for a total term of protection of 95 years. The amendment of theCopyright Act of 1976 in the Copyright Renewal Act of 1992 provided an automatic renewal of the term of copyrights security between January 1, 1964 and December 31, 1977. Any copyrighted works from 1923 to 1951 were not renewed, due to diligence necessitate of the current copyright status of works that was secured after 1922.

What is Public Domain?

Public Domain fall under the category of any published and/or registered works that copyright term had expired, or never was secured. Any plain facts (data) such as names, dates, locations, occupations, military service, etc. including transcribed gravestones, except for the personal and identifiable information of the living individual are protected by the privacy laws under the state or federal law.

Another works under the public domain that are or were created by government officials or employees during the course of their duties, such as the Federal Census enumeration. Some state claimed copyrights in some of their publications.

These works are considered public domain of information of common property and contained no original authorship, e.g., blank forms, short phrases, names, titles, and slogans; list of weights and measures, etc.

What is "Fair Use"?

"Fair Use" of copyrighted works or materials under the U.S. Code, Title 17 does not defined what is or is not considered fair use. In its place are these four criteria:

  1. The purpose and character of the fair use criterion. 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?
  2. The nature of copyrighted work(s) under the fair use criterion. Is an 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.
  3. The amount and substantial portion used in relation to the entire work(s) in the fair use criterion. 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.
  4. Effective use on the market for, or value, of the work(s) for the fair use criterion. Even if your use is not-for-profit, your use must influence the market value of another's protected expression, your idea of fair use is probably not fair use.

Use of Copyrighted Materials or Works---one clear way to avoid infringement on copyrighted material or work is to paraphrase the material or statement, i.e., put it into your own words. However, credit should always be given in a citation. Avoid extensive amout of paraphrasing or indirect quotations. The copyright law, under fair use, protects the user's right to copy any copyrighted materials or works in certain conditions, e.g., in scholarly or research purposes. It does not infringed upon the copyright laws since it a study or research of other ideas or thoughts. Otherwise the author is not restricted to publication or sold for profit of their own study or research.

In general, if you plan to publish your works under the fair use law. Be sure to cite your work of those publications used that falls under the copyright laws, unless the works or materials are over 95 years old.

Whether or not, any of these copyright laws applied to your situation. recommends that you cite your sources in every situation. It will make it easier for others to know if you have adequate citation of your work. Reprints and Facsimile Copies---when these materials entered into these contexts of fair use, it is now public domain and it maybe republished or copied in part or in total by anyone. However, reprint of public domain are copyrighted and applicable when new material is introduced, summary added, tables of statistical info, and so on to be added as original works. Nevertheless, contact the publisher or author when you are in question of the original and new sources.

Copyright Information on the Internet