16 July 2013

How do we get our fellow genealogists to SHARE images, documents, stories and more?

Creative Commons, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0), http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

We have been reading a lot about copyright infringement recently in our genealogy community and such infringement just needs to STOP!

As “theft” of genealogy content continues to make headlines (rightfully so, unfortunately), such news often deters “new” and “old” genealogists from sharing their research either via a web-based ancestry tree, via e-mail or even in person.

I was reminded of this when I re-read a saved blog post from last year, Kris Williams: The Genealogy Grinch (via Ancestry.com blog). 

Have you run into one of these in your family? 

I’ve been fortunate, that when I have reached out to complete strangers (albeit distant cousins) and vice versa, we’ve always been willing to share what we know – in fact, my family reports are available on my personal website.  I loved doing the research, I loved interacting with so many that helped me along the way, I loved sharing what I learned with my family and I now love sharing that same information with the world.  In my mind, I don’t have an “exclusive” right to any of this information.  The majority of what my report includes is public knowledge.  I didn’t create these reports for the world, I did create them for myself and my family and if someone else can make use of the information, my response is “go for it!”  

Though, please do make sure to retain my copyright notice and give attribution.  After all, that is both the polite and legal thing to do.

Historically, it was much more challenging to make copies of items held by others.  Everything cost "real money" (in addition to time), whether it was making color photocopies of images, putting documents in the mail at the post office, getting duplicates of photos, making copies of documents, etc.  So, in the past, it was more understandable that what may seem a simple request to the requester would require a lot of effort (and money) on the part of the requestee.

Nowadays, with smart phones, scanners, the internet and all our technological toys, cost and effort have been reduced dramatically.  Do you have a distant cousin, with all the technological toys at their fingertips, who literally in 5 minutes could get you some key image or document?  Yes, doesn’t?

Have you run into one of these in your family?

Nowadays, besides the aforementioned record, image, etc, grinch, I often hear tales of DNA grinches. Granted, when you are asking for something as personal as some DNA, one can understand a certain reticence. Additionally, when we are inundated with information about DNA use (and misuse) by the authorities, issues about medical privacy, and so much more, we do have to work harder to ensure those participating that their DNA information will only be used for genealogical purposes and that it is inviolate otherwise.  And, when you see a headline like this one from last week, Spread of DNA databases sparks ethical concerns, well, our job is cut out for us.

And, when I talk about a DNA grinch, it’s not the person who has some real concerns with how such will be used, it is with the person who has agreed to undergo such testing (often at the requestor’s cost) and then dilly dallies and often never does the DNA testing.  If you have concerns, don’t agree to do the DNA testing.  If you didn’t know you had concerns and then they arose, communicate with the requestor – maybe you can find an alternately appropriate subject or maybe you can offer to cover the cost?  Please don’t just drag your feet – please be upfront.

Have you run into one of these in your family?

Whether you have or have not personally “run into one of these in your family,”  what suggestions might you offer for someone who is dealing with a genealogy grinch?

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