Is this method of posting an obit allowed?

+5 votes
I need an opinion as to whether I can post an obit in this manner.  Don't want to get in copyright trouble.

Dan Mortimore
WikiTree profile: Wasel Washburn
in Genealogy Help by Dan Mortimore G2G1 (1.2k points)
Dan is my neighbor and friend.  So far the answers have been very good but sort of surprising in the different interpretations of copyright.  I hope we can see more comments and a recommendation on the best practice in this situation.  Dan has hundreds more but wants some clear direction before going forward.

Well the pdf way is awkward. Very few will bother to download to see it, unless that's the goal. smiley

5 Answers

+5 votes
I mean, you have to download it to read it. That's not something I would want to do. Can't  you just summarize the obit and quote some sections of it?
by Natalie Trott G2G Astronaut (1.0m points)
+8 votes
For the benefit of those who don't want to open the pdf file, it is an image of the published obituary and includes a copyright notice at the bottom indicating that is the owner and all rights are reserved.

Based on that copyright notice, I believe (but am no lawyer, so please take this with several grains of salt) that cannot be posted on WikiTree.
by Gaile Connolly G2G Astronaut (1.0m points)
+8 votes is not the copyright holder of the obituary, nor can they claim a copyright in this situation.  The copyright statement is completely bogus and unenforceable.  They could argue that you have violated Terms of Service for their site - again incorrect and unenforceable.  The copyright of the obituary belongs solely to the newspaper who published it.  It is probable that newspaper also doesn't own the copyright as they didn't write it - it is owned by the family that paid to have it published.  Even then, it is within your fair use rights to copy the obituary and place it on WikiTree.

So, copy the whole thing and place it on WikiTree.  Do not use an image downloaded from (that could be problematic).  Give it a proper citation which is to the newspaper it was published in, and not (which just a repository and in fact an "obituary pirate" stealing and monopolizing the works of others).

Here is a profile of my gg-grandfather which includes his obituary.

by Joe Cochoit G2G6 Pilot (233k points)

So you are advising people to disregard the TOS of another site? This is not what is in the help page:

I'm saying does not own the obituary, they do not own the words, and they do not own the data contained in the obituary.  The obituary is available from many other places, including the original newspaper.  The source is the original newspaper, not

Right, I get it, Joe, and got it earlier. Why I'm saying to edit it is to remove the names of living persons, which are in that obit (or it's highly possible that they are still living.) Easier to do that if you summarize or otherwise edit the obit instead of just slapping a pdf there.

+4 votes

If it is from they do allow clipping of the obit FROM the site, and you can link to the clipping.

I just did that this morning in this profile:

by Natalie Trott G2G Astronaut (1.0m points)
+3 votes

A couple of blog posts that may be useful to you:

Copyright and the obit

Copyright and the post-1963 obit

BLUF:  Most older obituaries are probably not covered by copyright protection.  Most modern obituaries probably are.

For what it's worth, I did ask a newspaper for permission to post a 1991 obituary and it was granted almost immediately.

by Kerry Larson G2G6 Pilot (192k points)

I also wanted to add this tidbit which is not widely known regarding newspapers and copyrights.  According to the expert quoted, "In my opinion, most newspapers published before 1964 are in the public domain."  YMMV (most, not all).  See article for details:  That copyright notice

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