Do we or don't we have permission to use this photo from Find a Grave?

+5 votes

This Find a Grave Memorial includes a photo of the tombstone that I would like to use on the person's WikitTree Profile, if permitted.  The "photo added by" link leads to the Find a Grave member's page, which includes the following statement:

My pics may be used for any not for profit geneology sites. Just please give credit where credit is due. Thank you.

It appears that the photographer has the generous intent to permit a free site like WikiTree to use the photo, however I am hesitating because WikiTree is not registered as a non-profit site.  I could sure use some "should I or shouldn't I" guidance here - THANX!

in Policy and Style by Gaile Connolly G2G6 Pilot (979k points)
This depends on whether the photographer means "not for profit" in its colloquial or its technical sense.

We may all think of Wikitree as a not-for-profit because it doesn't charge for access to genealogical information. However, it does generate revenue by selling advertising (which is seen by non-members on the Wikitree site). Moreover, "Wikitree" is a brand of Inc., which is registered in New York as a business corporation. The operator of Wikipedia (that is, the Wikimedia Foundation) has taken the effort to register as a non-profit organization with the IRS and state regulators, but Inc. has not, and thus there are no publicly available records of Inc.'s revenues or profits (that is, no IRS Form 990, which non-profits are required to file with the IRS and which are available on such sites as This is also why Wikitree uses a .com rather than a .org web address (unlike and Basically all we (at least outside the leadership team) have to go on is Chris Whitten's assurance that he is running this as a not-for-profit; there is no actual transparency or accountability for this.
Wiki may sell advertisements but it does not sell genealogical information or ask anyone to pay for genealogical services or information and so I do think it qualifies as a non-profit genealogical site. Give credit to the photographer and don't worry anymore about it.
The extension used for a website doesn't mean it is a for profit vs not for profit site.  When you create a website, you decide which extension you want to use.  There is no restriction.

I've never given assurances that WikiTree is not-for-profit. It's a business.

I do give assurances that our mission is to grow a collaborative family, that we will never charge for access, and that we take extraordinary steps to protect the tree

I could also give assurances that WikiTree was unprofitable for many years. If I was doing it just for the money I'd be an idiot. :-)

C-H is essentially, right, though, and I think Nelda's suggestion is the best, i.e. you'd really need to ask the photographer.

1 Answer

+17 votes
Best answer
Gaile, since none of us who are members are paying money to WikiTree to use WikiTree I think it would meet the requirements of the photographer/contributor. What I generally do when the photographer/contributor has stated permission in their profile is send a note to the photographer/contributor telling them where I've posted their photo, giving them a link, thanking them and telling them if they have any objections to my posting the photograph here to let me know and I will take it down. I've never had anyone object.
by Nelda Spires G2G6 Pilot (458k points)
selected by Kevin Conroy

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