Posting petition from UK Natnl Archive

+5 votes

I ordered a copy of a petition from the National Archive; it's a letter from a brewer asking clemency from the court for a violation. (He didn't get it.)  Can I post this letter if I carefully source it?  If not, could I post it if I transcribed it?

I'm trying to make a case that this person was educated.

George Rainford, Brewer

20 Nov 1834, Westminster, England

WikiTree profile: George Rainford
in Genealogy Help by Robin Rainford G2G6 Mach 1 (15.7k points)

2 Answers

+4 votes
Best answer
If you transcribe it, there's no problem.  But I don't think you can upload the scanned document.
by Ros Haywood G2G Astronaut (2.1m points)
selected by Robin Rainford
+6 votes
In the United States there is a Doctrine of Fair Use for copyrighted materials which is basically spelled out that you can use copyrighted material if you:

A) Don't use it for your own pecuniary interest.

B) The use is for educational or informative use that does not interfere with the original copyright holders intent of usage.

Which is basically what the page Ros posted before explains for usage from their site.

So, do you plan on making money from posting the scanned document and is this educational or informative for the viewer?  If no to the former and yes to the latter, then by all means, post the original scanned document.  Also, giving full source documentation is fair dinkum here as well.

Also, transcribing a document does not remove the copyright from the original. A copyright is a copyright is a copyright.  Changing the format of written material does not revoke the copyright.  If this was true, I could print a book in another typeface than the original and call it mine.  Just see how far you get with doing that.  LOL

Please see this G2G Forum Question
by LJ Russell G2G6 Pilot (222k points)
edited by LJ Russell
In other words:

if you write it down, that's all right, you can't copyright data

If they bought the camera, you can't upload it
I get it now RJ and Ros.  So these documents, which are images, photographs, or other means of facsimile, are treated the same way a published photograph is treated in the United States.  It is the image they have copyright over, not the actual content of the image or its imagined intellectual property. And since these are mostly government documents covering the interaction of the common populace and the government, the idea of intellectual discourse is of course, moot. wink, wink.

Thanks. Now about cricket?????
Thank you Helen,  This not only explained the game of Cricket to me, but also the underlying logic of British Copy Right Law pertaining to the items held in trust by the National Archive and the definitive answer to "Who is buried in Christopher Wren's tomb?"..  Absolutely brilliant.


This has been a cracking good posting I must say!
I don't agree.  Anybody whose work makes a significant contribution to achieving the end product has rights in it.

If I take a picture of a gravestone and you transcribe my picture, I have rights in that.  If you want to cut out my rights, go take your own picture.

You can transcribe a TNA scanned image, not because they don't have rights, but because they choose to waive their rights.  This doesn't apply to anybody else who supplies scanned images.  It's specific to TNA, and it's because their purpose in scanning is not to produce a product, but to minimize the handling of the originals and the need to keep them where they can get at them.  It would be totally counter-productive to allow their copyright to create a reason why you'd want to see the original instead of the scan.
You have rights to your picture.  You don't have rights to the data.

Say you took a picture of a gravestone which said something like
John Smith, b 1800, d 1875

Now I could quite legally make a WT profile for John Smith, with those dates, and in the biography give credit and say that I got them from a gravestone pic taken by RJ Horace.

But there is absolutely NO WAY that I could copy your picture and upload it to WT.  That would be breaching your copyright and you could sue me. You are correct: if I wanted to upload a picture of that gravestone, I would have to go and take my own picture.

But John Smith's name and his dates are not copyrightable.
Copyright is in work.  I own the copyright in my taking of the picture.  You could not legally post a transcription from my picture without my permission, with or without attribution.

You could legally post the identical thing if you got it by going to the grave yourself.  It's not what you post, it's where you got it from and who else's work you freeloaded off.
In which case, who is the freeloader here? You took a picture of a gravestone.  Therefore you are infringing the copyright of that stonemason. Or was he infringing the copyright of the parish clerk, by chiseling out the dates? Was the parish clerk infringing the copyright of the parents, who produced the child?

Yes, ridiculous, I know.  Let's all take a breath and drink a long tall glass of lemonade...
Sorry Ros, Yes way I can load the photo taken by RJ Horace to WT and essentially not break any laws if I do so in the United States.  This is all done under the Doctrine of Fair Use.

If I copy his gravestone photo from Find A Grave, he does have a copyright to the photo.  However, here he has it exposed it to the public on a free site where he receives no monies for producing and posting said photo. His interest in the photo is informative and educational of the general public.

I copy said photo and upload to a Profile on WikiTree. I receive no monies for my works on WikiTree (a free site as well) or from the use of said photo and my reason for posting the photo is informative and educational to the general public.  As long as I give RJ his due as the creator and source of the photo and where I obtained it, I have not really broken the Copyright Laws of the US. If I used it in a book or article where I received payment or expect payment, then yes, I have totally infringed on his copyright.

The onus of copyright infringement is upon the holder of the copyright.  RJ, as the copyright holder, is withing his rights to contact me and ask to cease and desist my use of his photo or he shall see me in a Court of Law in the jurisdictional area of where said malfeasance has occurred.  I have every right to respond in court that under the Fair Use Doctrine I have not caused any undo harm to the copyright holder nor injured their pecuniary interest in said photo, of which there is none in this case. Nor caused any harm to the intent and usage of the copyright holder. I would mostly likely win this case in an American Court

I, however, would not care to spend the monies required in a legal confrontation and would therefore remove said offending photo from WikiTree thus giving RJ his personal satisfaction and again, this is only in the Untied States and it's territories.

If the photo had been taken with an expectation of remuneration, say for a magazine or book, then RJ would have a stronger case and I would more than like lose in a Court of Law.  But, it is still up to RJ to discover I have used the photo and has contacted me to cease and desist.  Until that time, my use of a photo like that is in legal limbo. Only he or his agents have the right to stop my usage.

Furthermore, if someone on WikiTree contacted me, and was not he or his agent, and told me to remove the photo, I would be under no obligation to remove the photo.  This is for either example of the photo. They would need to contact RJ and inform him of any possible infringement of copyright.

And once more, this is only for actions taken in the United States or it's Territories.
I should prefer a nice Speckled Hen.

Wink WInk

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