Is there a way to tag profiles that are copyrighted or to politely address this issue

+18 votes
I keep comming across profiles that are copied and pasted (its usually obvious) but I check them out anyway from the sources they list , which I've also noticed some copying and pasting of sources too. I don't really know how to bring it up to the manager without it coming out as sounding accusing, but it is part of honor code. I found an orphaned profile same issue I just changed that myself , erased copy and pasted material and rewrote bio best I could, but that took some time I , and I know other members, do not always have. so is there some way to tag that profile where it can go to a list that need volenteers to clean up and let the manager know that copy and pasting is not the wiki way or maybe just post them on G2G everytime if we don't have time or??
in Policy and Style by Charissa Currie G2G6 Mach 1 (12.1k points)
recategorized by Michael Stills
I know there are tags  that can be added to top of bio for unsorced profile, I was just wondering is there something like that for copyright or for that matter any profile that has big misstakes or needs some type of maintenance
It used to be outlined in the long profiles template, but it looks like it's gone. We need a new template specifically for this purpose... since people may not know when they are breaking TOS.

4 Answers

+11 votes
Best answer


In addition to this in the Honor Code:

  1. We respect copyrights. We don't knowingly copy information that's owned by someone else. If we ourselves want to preserve a copyright, we're clear about what's copyrighted so others don't accidentally copy it.

there are two help/style-guide pages that deal with this and related issues:


If the profiles you are coming across are open profiles, anyone can edit them; that said, and especially if the profile managers are active, you might want to post a comment on the profile pointing out that it contains content that is subject to being edited out per the above links (whichever are relevant).

Depends how bold you want to be.

When I was working on cleaning up wikitree pages that had copyrighted or content stolen from elsewhere without attribution, at a minimum, I would place in the "reason for editing" box an explanation, along the lines of "copyrighted content removed..." or "narrative edited to align with style guide"

by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (781k points)
selected by Porter Fann
+6 votes
We also had a former member who created a LOT of profiles from information on findagrave, including uploading photos from findagrave.  I've started going through to add the memorial as a source, but should the photos be disconnected?
by Nan Starjak G2G6 Pilot (271k points)
If the photos on find-a-grave do not include permission to be used elsewhere, then, yes, any photos that were copied from find-a-grave need to be detached.

By the way, this goes for scanned images of copyrighted work, as well. For example, I sometimes come across a profile that includes a scanned image of a page from Anderson's Great Migration series. VERY much copyrighted. Gotta go.

Thanks, Jillaine. I thought so, but best to ask.
Heck! we still have members doing that.

The internet is public domain unless copyright is specifically listed. It is common courtesy to cite the source. Find A Grave makes it very easy to cite the specific profile. However, if I found a photograph and it had no identification as to who provided it, then it is not a reliable reference, at all, anyway.

Overall, if I were to run across a profile that is "copy" of elsewhere, I would proceed to edit and add quotes around the copied material, and add the source (of which one is obviously aware, or this question would not have been raised). Yes, ideally, if chunks of data references are merely being moved, en masse, without summarization AND SOURCING back to the original, it's a gross violation of professional courtesy.

One should always think about how they would feel if they did a lot of work, and they were unacknowledged. On the other hand, professionals actually like to have their work cited, and if it's not more than a paragraph or so - properly offset in quotes - and surely cited, then it's not really an issue. Only when a profile is presented as original research and no citation, acknowledgment and credit is given: a problem for sure. (In which case, edit as I suggested, being in the know.)

We all are responsible to be proactive, though sometimes it's extra work.


What is your source for the claim that "The Internet is public domain unless copyright is specifically listed."
That's just the way the internet works: if it's on the internet, it's public. If it's "done in public," it's public domain; copyright notices notwithstanding. Many content providers put restrictions on the ability to download content or readily share it, in some cases, including paywalls. OTOH, many content providers encourage sharing on social media because "it drives traffic," and advertising pays the bills.

Anything marked with a copyright should clearly be respected. As responsible stewards of genealogy data, we here at WikiTree are obligated to make a concerted effort to not violate or take advantage of un-attributable sources, and to document the same.

Find A Grave, particularly is an open site. As a matter of standards, though, like I said before, we wouldn't want to regurgitate posts from Find A Grave, especially if we have no confidence: a photo without a source indicator is basically worthless.

Our goal is to make our work accountable: to document sourcing to the extent possible so that others can verify or reproduce how we make our claims. Without that level of validity, we are unreliable as genealogists. Too much fake work exists, already, so we should joy in making our product trustworthy. Thus the emphasis on sourcing. And, to repeat myself, that process of sourcing actually gives credibility to the extent that we give credit: so it's a two-way street of celebrating our joint findings.
A limited use and scope copy is sometimes wholly appropriate. Look at the age of the work in question too. If it's properly cited and documented as such, one page of a huge volume is likely not a copyright violation.
It's pretty much the exact opposite. Anything on Find A Grave is on the open internet. I would only use ones that have the photographer or a detail on the source photographer/publication and which did not have a prohibition against use. I've occasionally seen folks state to not have a photograph or visual re-used without permission, in which case, one need only document the process of having gotten it, if they want to use it. If it doesn't say "don't use this," the Source link they have allows full attribution.

As I've said elsewhere on here, if no photographer or other source for a visual is identifiable, then it's useless, anyway.

I see no need for a blanket rule of not using Find A Grave media, with the caveats above-described where use is restricted. Until further notice, Find A Grave remains an open site, with unlimited internet access. Now that has bought them, the ads have flourished, so we shall see if some content eventually goes behind a paywall, too.

Fann, public and public domain are two different things.  See:

I don't want to get into this argument, but...

When I began posting photos to Find a Grave, I was assured that those photos would continue to belong to me. I own the copyright. The fact that Ancestry bought FAG makes no difference. I own the copyright. I will or my heirs will continue to own the copyright until I'm long dead and gone. If you repost my photo without my permission, I can sue you. It would be a nuisance, and the judge would laugh at me after he awarded me $.10 so I'm not likely to do so. However, I've photographed whole families of tombstones. Many are artistically pleasant. If you copy them and make a book and make a profit, I just might have to sue you on principle.
+5 votes

If you add {{LongProfiles}} to the top of the profile it will go into a category, that is frequently of the copy/paste variety.

If it's orphaned add the template and a note that says something like this appears to be copy/paste.

I do think if the manager is active, it should be pointed out to them that it's not the wiki way as outlined by Jillaine.

by Anne B G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
Can I put that on my own profiles I need to clean up? or is it a bad thing?

Hi, Sounds like what you might want is a personal category. A lot of Wikitreers have them. Mine has the people from my last (small) gedcom import that need to be worked and sometimes if I run into an odd profile that I'd like to work on I put it in my category. Or you can create a to-do list.

+3 votes

Hi Charissa,

If the manager is still active, I always write them a private message ... usually a fairly long one, carefully worded to avoid any judgement or blame (at least, I do my best).

I acknowledge that this is probably just an interim step in the process of research, and not meant to be the final product.  I suggest the "raw material" be stored in a file on their own computer, until it can be integrated ... things like that.

I give them a little history about the issue, pointing to the G2G and wider genealogy community discussion of the topic. I point out how it affects all of us. I link them to the help pages, and I offer my support (if they wish to have it).

At the same time that I send the private message, I add the blockquote tags, so it is at least obvious that we know it is quoted material, and not original work (and on the reason for changes, I say I added blockquote tags to the cut & paste and have contacted the person who added it)

If the manager is not active, but I can find the source, I will sometimes use it and add a citation (but only if it is useful).  I don't feel any obligation to use it just because it is there.

If the manager is not active, and I cannot discover the source - delete.  And, I almost invariably get "thank you's" for deleting copy & paste.

Copy & paste is an ongoing problem on WikiTree.

My hunch is that most people don't like it and don't want it, but are worried about any consequences.  I am more worried about the consequences if we do nothing, and I am soooo happy you are concerned enough to raise this question on G2G. 

Thank you for that, and thank you for dealing with it, instead of ignoring it!  yes

by Cynthia B G2G6 Pilot (128k points)

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