Using newspaper cuttings - is this copyright free? [closed]

+23 votes
I am extremely new here - and quite rightly listed as a rookie.  Still finding my feet 'so to speak'.

On one profile - I've used several hundred newspaper cuttings (the profile below - his father Anthony) - is this allowed?  I'm asking as I'm covering my back - as they were not made/produced or printed by me - I'm not the owner of the cuttings?

I am in possession of certain personal articles so presume I have the copyright to use them.

Regarding an image of a census or UK Medical Register - do I just put a link to the article or is it acceptable to copy, crop and upload.  With regards to copyright - I'm not in it for monetary gain.

Also with regards to copyright - a BMD - again these are certificates I've purchased from the GRO - though are we allowed to use such material as source images?  Or do I just put a link to the website?

If I'm not allowed - I can always unlink/remove image.
WikiTree profile: Louis Cassidy
closed with the note: Seems it is safer not to put any images up.
in Policy and Style by Anonymous Bowling G2G6 Mach 5 (59.5k points)
closed by Anonymous Bowling
Off topic Trish, but very nice work on that profile!

5 Answers

+14 votes
Best answer

Hi Trish,

Your question is very appropriate.  I am sorry to say that our help pages do not address copyright, but there has been a lot of discussion here on G2G.  Just search for copyright at the top of this page, and here is my question from yesterday.

I would say that unless it is an original, personal photo, it is best to link for two reasons. 1) It is always safe to link, in terms of copyright, 2) Linking is much more economical than data base storage (which costs $).

Thank you for asking!

by Cynthia B G2G6 Pilot (128k points)
selected by Cheryl Hess
Thank you Cynthia - in other words I remove all the images as I didn't print the newspaper clippings as I didn't actually print them.  Again the BMD certificates - whilst I own the image the image has copyrights by the GRO.


Many thanks - will remove all images now.

You can use images of GRO certs as long as you comply with this advice  in the PDF below basically, acknowledging Crown copyright and complying with data protection law.

With the newspaper cuttings in the UK,   rather than later images , t whether it is still in copyright depends upon how old it is . If it's anonymous then copyright expires 70 years after publication. If it is  a signed or commissioned article then the copyright expires 70 years after the death of the author,

Census images and many other, even extremely old documents  from the UK are also Crown copyright  and because the images  are viewed as a commercial asset, you would have to ask for permission .

Found an unofficial summary of UK copyright/crown copyright here.

+14 votes
Maybe I'm way out in left field on this but I sometimes do include pictures and newspaper clippings but only if I can credit the source. So far I have not had any complaints, in fact I received a thank you from the originator of a picture for using a it and crediting it's source. Link's are great but they can in time stop working for a variety of reasons. I always link to find a grave though and other sites that should be around for a while.
by Brett Rutherford G2G6 Pilot (121k points)
I'm frantically going through and removing all Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates, all newspaper cuttings, obituary notices.  Thank you Brett Rutherford.

Many kind thanks.
I believe in images as proof when it is available.  I am not a lawyer.  However, for the newspapers, if you get it off microfilm yourself they usually say 70 yrs or 1922.  I studied ancestry's copyright info (and others) and none of them can be explained without a lawyer and we can't be asking lawyers for answers - and the internet providers know we wont..  There are some guidelines to copyright abuse, like (if you copy less than 1% of something it is considered minimal and acceptable, and credit ALWAYS.).  Links are very difficult and too long to put in a bio, usually.  A link to an image won't go if you aren't a subscriber so why waste the time?  I will credit the website, the searcher would have to find it anyway.  What I did was simply test the waters.  I have used some Quaker record images, for example. I spent many $$$$ copying from microfilm at archives from 11 different states in my early days and now they are on line.  Public Doman is public domain and according to date of issue, can be acceptable.  The third party rule"  has yet to be explained adequately.  So, I  am waiting to be sued.  In the meantime, I will be cautious and credit and hope our good intentions with the little we use for our personal family, should hold some value.    PS  I did contact various newspapers and photographers and had no problem, but newspapers do not want all us calling them for permission!  Kick me - Kiss me?
It seems to me that the copyright laws differ from one country to the next. This may be the case for how to categorize material as public domain vs. privately owned. For example, the UK and the US treat copyrighted material differently, depending on what it is.

I have seen copyrighted material on YouTube without permission, but I'm not sure what, if anything, to do about it. If the person who posted this material is from another country it makes things much more complicated.

Does WikiTree have a policy or is this still under development?
+15 votes
The following site seems to correctly describe the legal use of newspapers

It gives different categories and explains which newspapers articles you can freely use and when you should obtain permission.  Hope this helps.  IMO its very important that we respect people's intellectual property rights, however its also important we don't restrain ourselves from using information that is legal to use.

This site on fair use, might also be helpful
by John Bentley G2G6 Mach 2 (22.2k points)
Thanks John Bentley - best I just remove all newspaper cuttings and type them out.  To try to determine Family Notices and two line notices of a person's death, marriage - easier to delete :)

Kind thanks.
Halfshire Historical Society, :  New York Newspapers & has extended an open invitation to all of wikitree. I use this site according to wikitree guidelines for copyrite & he says that is satisfactory.
+9 votes
If you are using the Australian newspapers on Trove for cuttings Trove itself provides the proper way to source the cuttings. It's then just a matter of cut and paste the citation they provide for you.
by Rosemary Jones G2G6 Pilot (233k points)
Many thanks Rosemary Jones - just deleted 30 newspaper clippings, his birth, death and marriage certificates.   Retyping the contents of each of them for the profile.

Unsure how to prove a source when we cannot use birth, marriage or death certificates or parish records as they have copyrights.
You can use them as text with a link to the actual page if they came from somewhere like
FamilySearch also provides a citation for their images.
I might be wrong, but I am not sure facts contained in birth, marriage or death certificates can be copyrighted.  While a book that discusses these records might be, the information itself can not be owned by one person.  So I think its well within the "fair use copyright doctrine" to site facts such as these. If you give credit and a person does own the copyright to the information you present, and objects to your use, they can send you a message and you can discuss it with them.  A copyright owner who wants to protect their interests will probably contact you before any doing anything else.

I would not let copyright law stop you from documenting your genealogy research.  Your respect for other's rights is to be commended but at the same time lets not hamstring ourselves when copyright law would not require us to do so.  Sorry if I got up on a soapbox...I'll step down now :)

BTW, the newspaper articles you have/had in the profile where really cool and add a lot to the profile.  It gives the profile character and I can't think of a better way to learn about a person's life but from a newspaper clipping for the time of his/her life.  I hope you leave those clippings up. IMO, the intention of copyright law is not to deter people volunteering on a free site from posting newspaper articles about a relative resulting in no monetary gain to the person posting the information.  But I am not an expert in this area of law.  Just find it interesting.  Its great that members of this site take this issue so seriously.  It reflects well on the community and our respect for other people's hard work.
(changed to answer)
+10 votes
Don't know if you saw my comment above but you mentiond  GRO certs so I assume you are writing about British certificates and cuttings  You can use images of UK birth certs for your older relatives under the terms of the Open Government Licence. The PDF linked is official advice on and even mentions family history websites .

"Q:  I'm publishing my family tree on the internet - I want to publish images of the certificates I have.

A:  As long as there are no details about living individuals there is no problem about publishing the images of the certificates on your family tree website. Any modern certificates would be subject to the Data Protection Act, and would need the permission of any living named person prior to publication

You have to be careful about  death certificates because the informant may still be living

(see the rest of my comment on your newspaper cuttings if they are from the UK.  )
by Helen Ford G2G6 Pilot (322k points)
99% were born in the 1700/1800s and therefore well and truly deceased.  Over the last five years I've bought up 90/100 BMDs as I prefer hard facts to the specifics e.g. rather than a guess of a birth or guess of a death certificate.

Newspaper clippings of these family members only either prove their occupation, family notices (birth of a child, marriage or death, or classified adverts relating to their business.

The named I used Louis, his father was featured in newspapers 300+ occasions quite prolific in being featured.

As previously stated above - obviously this is not for monetary gain as they are purely family.

Many thanks to all replies. To cover myself I'll remove all the paperwork/images. Safer this way.

Kind regards.

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