How do we see Wikitree?

+13 votes
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It strikes me that Wikitree is an ongoing research project rather than a place to publish my research, although obviously I do do the latter.

This could have implications for the use of small chunks of otherwise copyright material. Or can we claim an academic purpose?

What do others think? Has any official body expressed a view?
in The Tree House by anonymous G2G6 Pilot (257k points)
Copyright is to prevent others from profiting from my research. I don't mind sharing my research with like minded individuals, it's the So and So's that take my research and publish it with intent to profit to whom I object.

So long as WikiTree doesn't profit from my research, I have no objection to in's members using my data. [signed] Tom (Bredehoft-6)
Sorry Tom, that wasn't what I meant. I'm referring to material quoted on Wikitree, not material borrowed from it.

Most copyright allows small sections to be used for personal or academic research not for profit (with acknowledgement).

Good point, Martin, Acknowledgement is usually all that is needed, Without it the work is plagiarism. Yeah, I'd like my work, acknowledged too. 

So Tom, do you think that only non-profit organizations should exist?  Personally I'm happy to have companies which make a profit from my work, or from my purchase of their goods or services.  Sure  I don't want them stealing my work, but just who are these "so and so's" you're mad at?
Dave, I was not distinguishing among for-profit and not-profit organizations, but individuals who would thoughtlessly copy my published work and imply it was there own.

1 Answer

0 votes
The problem I see with this position is that while it would be fine for an individual working alone it doesn't work so well for an organization working in collaboration.  So say I look at all the census pages I've downloaded from Ancestry.com.  Even though I suppose it's several thousand pages , it's still a tiny fraction of a percent of all the census pages Ancestry has.  But if we have many thousands of people who placed censuses from Ancestry on the site we'd end up with a substantial portion of the total and eventually the totality.  Now Ancestry.com can't claim a copyright anyway for the pages of census, providing  way for people to find and use the pages can be, so spreading most of the pages they provide using their sort mechanism, can maybe  be considered infringement of their right to make a living.  OTOH Ancestry doesn't have an exclusive right to make census pages available, so it should be possible develop a way to have census pages available to post.  The same with other sorts of documents.
by Dave Dardinger G2G6 Pilot (408k points)
Commercial sites like  Ancestry have their own copyright rules. We can't publish their images. They are theirs and theirs alone. All we can do is quote content. If I'm using an Ancestry image as a source, I have to admit that I don't credit them. I credit the original repository.

I'm thinking more of text from books etc.

I agree with Martin, Dave - census and other record images from Ancestry, FamilySearch, and other sites should not be copied to WikiTree because those images are copyrighted by the company that created them.  The number or percentage of images isn't the issue - they're all under copyright.  The census records are not under copyright because they were created by the U.S. Federal government, and therefore they are in the public domain.  So you are correct, Dave, that Ancestry does not have an exclusive right to the census records.  But they do have copyright of their images of those records.  I have personally scanned and taken photographs of census pages from the microfilm at the National Archives - these images are mine, and I can post them. 

Similarly with photos from Find A Grave, Pinterest, and other web sites - the copyright belongs to the photographer, so those should not be copied, even with attribution, unless we have the permission of the photographer. 

Regarding census records, my personal preference is to cite the actual source I use, because not all images are created equal.  This enables me to examine different images to determine a "mystery entry" when an image is not clear, or decide if I need to go to the original census microfilm.

As for ebooks, Wikipedia, and other materials that are available online, I generally either quote or paraphrase only a couple of sentences and provide a link to the online source for further information.

I do not know of an authoritative source that has provided an opinion for WikiTree use of material from copyrighted books.  I believe that you have the right approach, Martin.  Since most copyright allows small sections to be used in not-for-profit academic research, my personal opinion is that it would be acceptable to include a short quote with an in-line citation.  I would not cite the source only in the Source section because that does not link the source directly to the material being quoted.  Again, this is my personal opinion - I am certainly not the authoritative source you are looking for!

Yes, I agree with all that, Star.

But the question that really interests me is whether Wikitree is a research project or a publication of material. I believe it is the former.

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