Copyright and Fair Use
I have been following your email messages for a number of years. Your
information has been very helpful in my genealogy search of my parents families.
I have prepared a history of my mothers family and have used pictures of
ancestors in it. These are personal to our family. I am a little confused about
the copyright laws pertaining to photos. Does it mean those pictures published
by photographers in newspapers, magazines and related publications. How about
pictures taken of individuals privately at professional photographer studios,
but paid for by the individual. Would these be considered owned by the
descendents of these people? -- Thank you for your help.
Your personal family photos shouldn't be a problem. However, if you've ever
tried to make color photocopies at Kinkos, you'll understand how strict things
can get. Professional studio portraits are not allowed to be copied (knowingly)
at their stores, unless you have written permission to do so.
The concept here is that we cannot reproduce
someone else's work and rob them of the opportunity to earn a profit.
One of my readers just asked if I would send a copy of the daffodil postcard I
mentioned purchasing through EBay this week. She too has wonderful memories of
Puyallup, Washington, and hoped to incorporate the graphic into her family
history as well. I didn't feel comfortable doing that even though I am sure the
lithograph company isn't in business at this time. Its entirely possible that
the heirs technically own copyrights on such products, so it is not for me to
If you would like to read a definitive work by a foremost genealogist, see:
Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors,
Lecturers, and Librarians edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills. See Chapter
7: Copyright and Fair Use, by Val D. Greenwood, J.D., AG.
Perhaps your society may wish to purchase this book for your local library's
genealogy department? If so, its from Genealogical Publishing Company.
Again, DearREADERS, the overriding authority is the US Copyright Office:
You can find it through the Library of Congress website: http://www.loc.gov
Happy family tree climbing!
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207