Please explain Wikitree's copyright statement

+15 votes

I would like more information about this statement on copyright in the new privacy policy.


This site and all information and images within it are copyrighted, unless otherwise noted. US copyright law protects all materials on this site. All rights reserved.


in Policy and Style by H Husted G2G6 Mach 8 (84.5k points)
Thank you for raising this. One of the reasons I originally chose wikitree was the very clear statements the site used to have about contributors retaining their copyrights on our writing, photographs, drawings and diagrams. After a while I tended to forget this was a reason I chose wikitree but was surprised yesterday when I read the new T&C's and there was almost nothing in them about us retaining copyright anymore.

Of course as I spent more time on wikitree over the years how copyright retention could practically work on a site like this seemed confusing to me.


1. Some adds a photograph they took of a family reunion

2. Someone adds a source for the picture

3. Someone adds a personal story about the picture and uncle Bill turning up right at the end having gotten lost.

4. Someone expands on the story about uncle Bill and how he often gets lost.

If the picture owner pulls the photograph they own the other contributors no longer make sense. If the person pulls his story about Uncle Bill the expansion of the story by another contributor no longer makes sense.

Then there is the possibility of the 800 word history you wrote on someone. Over time other contributors could fix some spelling errors, reword a sentence so it makes better sense, add a couple of sentences at various points in the text where they have additional information to add. If the original contributor wants to pull their copyrighted work what happens to the amended versions of the work. If the original contributor wants to retain their work at wikitree but has decided to publish it in a family history booklet or family newsletter as well they need to get the other contributors permission or carefully make sure they strip out all the additions to the original 800 word history now on wikitree that they did not contribute personally originally.

Essentially if I write an article for a family newsletter and put it on wiki tree at a later time or if I write a history of a place or person for a wikitree page and later on want to include it in a booklet or my own website I want to be able to do that and for it to be clear that it was my original work.

2 Answers

+12 votes
Best answer
Only creative works are protected by copyright law. So while written material may be protected by copyright law, the information in it is not, so the part about "information" being copyrighted is just wrong. Also, copyright protection ends a certain number of years after the work is created, so some of the written material and images posted on wikitree are not protected by copyright law. The person who creates a writing or image owns the copyright unless they have assigned it to someone. I don't recall whether, when we join wikitree, we assign all copyrights to writings or images we post to wikitree. If we post written materials or images that are still subject to copyrights owned by someone else, those rights would still be owned by that person, rather than wikitree. All in all, it is a very muddled statement.
by Chase Ashley G2G6 Pilot (321k points)
selected by Gwen Landenberger
+8 votes
A simpler answer is that all material on WikiTree is copyright by someone. WikiTree also states that content my be copyright by WikiTree Community  Members. You would have to specifically put "your" content into the public domain and release it from copyright to lose it.

As Chase Ashley stated, but paraphrased, "data" is not protected by copyright. The text you put into a profile may be copyright by you. If you use someone elses material (text, image, etc) you need to be careful. If a quote, you MUST give a citation. If you don't own it, you need to be careful. Just giving a source citation is not sufficient for more than a small quote.

Any work you create with copyright is for the lifetime of the author plus 70 years. Works before 1978 have different rules depending on when created.
by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (557k points)

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