Can You Briefly Explain
Copyright Guidelines?

    One could write volumes on copyright law. I will touch on the key points as they apply to our files in the Genealogy Forum.

    Commercial software cannot be uploaded. We receive demos of commercial software from the authors themselves, and these are what you will see in our program libraries.

    Shareware files may be uploaded to the program libraries, but they should always included the terms, conditions and fees for using the application in the file description. The upload should comply with the author's requests. For example, "This shareware package should not be modified in any way."

    Graphics files

    Clip art must be copyright free, or used with written permission by the author.

    Family photos are not necessarily copyright free. If they were taken by a professional photographer and are less than 75 years old, you may need the photographer's permission to reproduce the photos. Technically, all photographers own the copyright to the photos they take, even amateur photographers. In addition, the people who are photographed have privacy rights which could be violated by uploading a photo. If the photo is 75 years old and of a deceased relative, you are safe to upload it. If the photo is of a living ancestor or is less than 75 years old, permissions may be needed before you can upload the photo.

    Photos that have been scanned from books and reproduced should be checked for copyright.

    Maps are subject to copyright unless they have been printed by the US government, or the copyright has expired. If the map does not have a copyright notice on it, and it is more than 10 years old, it is probably Public Domain. Anything more than 75 years old is in the public domain.

    Text files

    This is what makes up the volume of our file libraries. Family Bibles, census records, parish records, published books on familes, etc.

    Most of these records are in the public domain. Most of them are a compilation of facts. If a file uses factual data from these sources, that's OK. However, a user cannot copy from a book on a particular family, other than a small quote by the compiler. A user can take facts from the book, but not make wholesale copy of the author's language.

    A user may read a book, or several books, write a paper, or give a lecture based upon the content of the books. He is, of course, expected to give credit to his sources. (Just like your term papers or theses)

    If you have any doubts that a file is not in the public domain, you should contact the owner, (not necessarily the author).

    If you want to read more about copyright law, use keyword, LEGAL. There are several forums that will provide detailed information on copyright issues.

    Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. These are guidelines that I have been given from IP lawyers.

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