Removal of Image of PRDH file

+7 votes
Occasionally profile managers have posted PRDH files as images i.e. this individual. Since access to PRDH files is a paid service and the images are copyrighted is there a protocol for how to proceed?

Additionally is it acceptable to transcribe the information from a PRDH file into a profile as I have done for the PRDH-Famille file for Bisson-420? My reasoning is the information is freely obtainable and therefore should not be subject to restrictions whereas the image of the files are copyrighted.

Thank you, Christine (Mama Kiki)
WikiTree profile: Elisabeth Bisson
in Policy and Style by Mama Kiki Lajeunesse G2G6 Mach 1 (19.5k points)
OK, now I understand more about the complexities of copyright esp. for PRDH... So does the same apply for references?? Or does the answer lie in the specific sight being referenced?

2 Answers

+4 votes

It's complicated.  In most countries, including Canada, facts cannot be copyrighted, so it's always OK to copy facts taken from a source.

It is a common misconception that digitized images on a paid service are copyrighted.  This is incorrect; see recent G2G discussion for more detail.  In Canada, copyright typically expires 50 years after publication.  Wikitree allows the posting of non-copyrighted images.  However, the document you posted is copyrighted.  The facts contained in it are not, but they have copyrighted the format and layout.

So the images are not copyrighted and can be posted to Wikitree.  However, you should first consider the PRDH-IGD terms of service.  The section "1. Limited user licence of the website" under "PRDH-IGD user responsibility" is a bit difficult to follow.  They are primarily concerned with someone downloading large blocks of information and reselling them.  The primary section that applies to you is "The online publication or the re-publication of the website’s content is prohibited except as unique data elements that are part of a unique family history or genealogy. In any permitted re-publication of content, a reference to the Drouin Institute and the PRDH-IGD website must be given using the following URL : You may not copy, reproduce, publish or share any content from the website without prior written consent of the Drouin Institute."  It indicates that "unique data elements that are part of a unique family history or genealogy" may be publicly posted, but then seems to say that it requires prior written consent.  So you might want to just ask them.

by Kerry Larson G2G6 Pilot (192k points)
edited by Kerry Larson
Thank you Kerry, good to know that including the information from the files is OK.

As for the Images of PRDH files I certainly don't want to be a "net nanny" and remove images that others have posted but it does seem that posting PRDH files is a contravention of the Wikitree code and is a breach of the PRDH terms of service.

I suppose my question actually is what is my responsibility, as a Wikitree member, when I come across a profile with a PRDH file Image (or any other copyright material for that matter). Do I #1- Remove an image someone else posted (I have not and would not post a PRDH file Image); # 2- Ignore the images; #3- Involve someone at Wikitree to have the Image removed; #4 post a comment suggesting the profile manager remove the copyrighted Image, if so must I then follow up to make sure the Image was removed.


I sincerely apologize for assuming that you posted the image.  That was a definite mistake on my part.  I would suggest messaging the poster, point out the copyright symbol on the image, and remind them that copyrighted images can't be posted to Wikitree.  They probably didn't even notice.

No worries, thank you for the guidance Kerry, Christine
Hello Christine.

There is a great deal of misunderstanding about copyright. One of the most important things to remember is that you can only "own" (copyright) INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. Just because PRDH or provides paid services to access records does NOT mean they own the copyright to those records. Baptismal records in the Drouin collection, for example, are in the public domain. Of course Ancestry and PRDH post copyright notices on their web pages. Most companies do. Note also that you cannot copyright facts (dates and places of birth, for example.) This is not intellectual property. Posting an image from PRDH or Drouin does not violate any copyright and you should not remove them. Do not assume payment for service implies copyright ownership. It does not. Having said that, I always indicate the source (PRDH, Ancestry, etc) when posting such an image on a profile
I strongly disagree that the image in question is copyrighted. Copyright only applies to "intellectual property". The "format and layout" of PRDH extracts do not constitute intellectual property. Anybody can reproduce thse graphical effects. There is a fairly high bar for "intellectual property". HTML formatting doesn't count. Also, copyright law almost everywhere allows the publishing of small extracts of copyrighted works for academic or research purposes.
I do agree with the notion that the facts can be freely used, but feel less certain that we can use the images from PRDH as freely.  When I first started here I was posting them and was advised by another person that we risked trouble with PRDH for doing so.  I now only post a PRDH image for a specific question where seeing the data as presented would be helpful to others.

the images in question are under copyright, each and every one bears the copyright logo.  The facts behind them are not copyrightable in the works done by PRDH, since they all relate to people who lived in 19th century at the latest, back to 16th century in a few instances.

Such images should not be on WikiTree pages.  The source citation shouldn't really include a ''blockquote'' that reproduces the image exactly either.  You can write the bio with the pertinent data, like x child of a & b married z child of c & d on 123 date in cc location, and put your source for it.

I need to clarify my statement that they "they have copyrighted the format and layout".  They have claimed copyright, but it may be dubious.  From the U.S. copyright office

"As a general rule, the Office will not accept a claim to copyright in “format” or “layout.” The general layout or format of a book, page, book cover, slide presentation, web page, poster, or form is uncopyrightable because it is a template for expression. Copyright protection may be available for the selection, coordination, or arrangement of the specific content that is selected and arranged in a sufficiently creative manner. The claim, however, would be limited to the selection and arrangement of that specific content, not to the selection and arrangement of any content in that particular manner." 

 As a specific example, they have declared that a phone book is not copyrightable.

However, Canadian copyright law is different than the U.S. and I have not found a specific example where they have clarified this issue.

lol, that really begs the question, photographers for instance can claim copyright on their work, even though the photo may be of a living person, who obviously owns his/her own face.  Or else why are we so insistent on not uploading images that are possibly copyrighted?

Prefer to err on the side of caution in such instance.
You have to realize that the PRDH images are a computer format based on the published books from PRDH, which are still very much under copyright.
You were right Kerry, the poster had not noticed the copyright, she has since removed the image. All is well that ends well.

+3 votes
Thank you everyone for your input. My takeaway from the discussion is that PRDH file images (which I had not realized were from a book) should not be uploaded to Wikitree as the PRDH terms of service would clearly be breached by doing so routinely. I appreciate and respect the effort made by the PRDH team and have no desire to see their work misappropriated.

Another takeaway is that my sole responsibility, as a Wikitree member coming across images that appear to be copyrighted, is to message the person posting the image with information about the Wikitree expectations of respecting terms of service of other sites.

by Mama Kiki Lajeunesse G2G6 Mach 1 (19.5k points)
Christine, if you get to a major library, the kind that has reference volumes on genealogy, you will find the PRDH books, there are about 20 of them, huge tomes.
Thank you Danielle, I will admit to being a rank amateur in genealogy and as such have never used anything other than my computer for genealogy research. The PRDH collection sounds like good motivation for me to “ hit the books”!

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