Can I upload actual Census data as source matieral?

+6 votes
I make a lot of fun about the site but this is a serious question of Source material.

Here is the situation, I own the census catalogs that was used to determine our Bledsoe family tree.

The thing is they could be used to prove any lines associated with the county's of the census documents I own.

I own the Bledsoe Catalogs by the family documentation of the Bledsoe quarterly mailing. Now I'm pretty sure I cannot upload the Bledsoe quarterly as it has copyrights also.

My question is can I upload the Census Data here? as I own them and this is a free to use site. So no copyright is broken as long as the site doesn't collect moneys for its use of the ancestry.con DOES! they hold it hostage and actually charge you to reference the source material on their site!

Even the census which is protected by US copyright? Here is what I mean by hostage source, If you don't pay ancestry you cant see their source's anymore. They cut you off at the login!

They in fact just charge for the documents. like census and other uploaded data by others. You cannot upload new source on ancestry without paying, you cannot reference sources. if your not a paying account.

question: Can this site own the copyrighted materials and serve them free to the public?

Update on Quarterly: I have found that the papers in question have no copyright other than those implied by fair use today. I also found that the Man who wrote it and who did this hard work is now a new wikitree profile.
WikiTree profile: Junior Mclaurin
in The Tree House by David Martin G2G6 (7.9k points)
retagged by David Martin

I will make one more comment about implied consent on this matter, as the Heir to the material My mother paid to prove her Bloodline, The Implied consent goes to the moneys paid for this information. In other words, I paid for this, its mine and that guy selling it to me (my mom), for our Genealogy is implied consent, I can use his work to further my own studies. He gives me implied consent by selling my family his service as a genealogist. As genealogist's you may want to remember that!

Since he sold the information to my mother the results of the work are mine in perpetuity. I could WILL this to wiktree. We all can. the data side could be non profit. Like PBS!

5 Answers

+5 votes
Best answer

I have long thought that it would be a good idea to have a sister site to WikiTree for sources. 

Sources from pay sites are sources, yes, but they're pretty much limited to other people who are also members of those sites in terms of usefulness. (Somebody has figured out a way to make sources visible, and I am extremely grateful to whoever that was. I'd make note of it and use it myself, except I don't have an account, so I don't have any sources to show. If there's some way to show sources from other pay sites, that would be cool, too.)

FamilySearch is free, but now you have to create an account and give them your birthdate before you can see anything. Since way too many banks still use your birthdate as a security question, I never give it to web sites, and I'm not going to start now.) I'd give them a bogus birthdate, except they say they'll throw you off the site if they find out you lied to them. Besides which, FamilySearch wants us to use their particular citation format, which is not the same as Evidence Explained, which is supposed to be our standard.

So I think that it would be extremely helpful to set up a parallel site to WikiTree that is only about sources: no chat, no family trees, just sources. And, once you find the record you're looking for, the site provides you with the source citation in Evidence Explained format, ready for you to copy and paste into WikiTree.

  • Some stuff, like US census data, is not copyrighted, and can be obtained on CD or as a download, and then indexed and put up on a free, advertising-supported sources site like this.
  • Some countries (or Canada, anyway) make census data available online, and some jurisdictions (the ones I know about are British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, West Virginia, and Yukon -- there are undoubtedly others) make BMD records available online (to varying degrees) and might be willing to make it available to a site like this through APIs. That way, as the typos in the data (and there are many of them) get caught and fixed, the updated data should be available automatically.
  • Australia has Trove, which I adore, because fixing up typos in the scanned documents is crowd sourced. Every time I find and use an Australian newspaper article in Trove, I proofread, not just the article I use as a source, but the ones before and after it, as a "thank you" for giving me the source I needed.

I imagine that such a site would probably start out small, and then slowly add more sources over time as different jurisdictions come to trust it. But I really see a need for a free site without a paywall or a password wall or anything that keeps people from being able to look up their ancestors. I'm mightily sick of different pay sites trying to hold my ancestors for ransom (and, in my opinion, FamilySearch asking me for information they don't need, and that could be used to steal my identity if their servers ever get hacked, isn't a whole lot better).

by Greg Slade G2G6 Pilot (399k points)
selected by David Martin
I agree 100% let me know if you need help on that.
I have been thinking about this too. WikiTree is great for storing genealogical data, but we have to go elsewhere to go do research. To take WikiTree to the next level, we would have to have source genealogical data available here.

The only difference that I would suggest, is not to make it a separate website, but as part of WikiTree itself. To add more value to WikiTree and get more people to use it.
So we agree wikitree should try and gain as much origanal source material on their profiles as they can. It will generate new material on EOL I bet.

Or even some new confirmation sources.
In my mind it's not about original source material on the profiles, although that would be an outcome.

It's about having original source material available for people to do research with.

Imagine: Wouldn't it be great if WikiTree was able to get copies of the raw 1950 US Census data when it comes out in 3 years (in 2022)? Wouldn't it be great if we had a transcription project here on WikiTree for that Census data? And then the ability to link WikiTree profiles to those transcription pages, and to link a profile to photos of the Census data itself?

I would certainly like to be able to do everything here, instead of having to go out to FamilySearch and copy citations and links back and forth. Plus their transcriptions are not always the best.

Then, of course, branch out to include all of the previous Census data as well.

Just as I would love to see WikiTree's Cemetery Project made easier to use and take off in popularity such that I don't need to go to Find A Grave anymore.

Granted, both of these would be part of a long term vision of the direction WikiTree can go in. It will take time and effort.

But I would like to see WikiTree be the place to do research, instead of just the best place to store family trees.
Sounds great.  Er...are you going to pay for it all?  Because of course it won't be free.  Why do you think there are huge corporations doing this sort of thing...and charging?  Because it ain't free, that's why.
Well data storage isnt high with the cloud. The data is being scanned and donated in my dream.  Then you just collate that stuff.  Most good source info will be self evident. Look at it as an investment. I will scan these crazy things in and then zip the diectory in server.  Pretty easy after that.
No, Ros, I couldn't pay for it, that's why I said that the site would be "advertising-supported".

But even so, the data sources I'm thinking of would be low-cost or even no-cost, and if we could implement a Trove-like system for users to fix typos in OCR-generated transcriptions from the scans, then I can see more jurisdictions giving us scans of their records for free, with the understanding that we will give them cleaned-up transcriptions of the data in return.
Ah. I just thought of another possible source. The Internet Archive has a bunch of scans of genealogically useful works. I've found scans of Burke's Peerage, Burke's General Armory, Lloyd's Register of Shipping from assorted years, old issues of genealogical journals, family histories, biographies, and so on. Except I always work from the scans, because the transcriptions (which I suspect are machine-generated) are a farce. A Trove-like system should be able to clean up the transcriptions a lot, and, since the indexing is probably based on the transcriptions, would make even the scans a lot more useful.
Greg has an excellent Idea advertising since we only link to it!

But Ros Must Pay the Internet Bills around here because the site would be serving {images} and that is {Bandwidth}. So We will work on this first book of these Quarterly journals. Has anyone ever heard of him? I posted his wikitree profile. Guess that would be based on popularity? on how much Bandwidth it would use? if they used the source, it could be costly in a long run!
anything generated by this site as new source material would be attributed to it too, so any new source material would have value. Because as we all know in the internet, Content is King.
In agreeance with Greg Slade on Trove. Every bit of transcription text that is corrected widens future searches for "everyone".

If you are a Wikitree member and use Trove for sourcing may I politely suggest become a (free) member for Trove.

It does not take long to correct for example a death notice where the original is reasonably clear.
+8 votes
Who owns the copyright on the images? Do they give permission for the images to be published elsewhere?

You can cite images, you can transcribe images (census data), you can excerpt or paraphrase copyrighted material provided you say where you got it.

As far as using Ancestry images--although they don't own the copyright to the census, they own the copyright to the images they made of the census. If you went directly to the source and made your own images they could be freely used, but you cannot freely use images you obtain from Ancestry (or any other source) without permission. You can't even use their transcriptions without permission.

I'm not an attorney, but this is my understanding of the situation.
by Nelda Spires G2G6 Pilot (273k points)

  Edie Kohutek

Edie and Dave are 14th cousins once removed (Uncertain)

Edie (Nibling) Kohutek and Dave Martin are both descendants of Roger Hill.

ROFL, I expected you to just ignore me really. We really should try I guess!

I think. I own these document's in my possession. Just because they are genealogical materials. Their work and sold to me becomes my property. Like saying here's your tree you paid for, don't show how I got here! any documents received as documented evidence of my linage is ALL mine to use as I wish in my Effort to prove my lines, and this a long term agreement by user and agent of the use of that SOURCE, over decades over century's. The Implied consent of that information being reused and scrutinized is  Inevitable as it is genealogical research Source Material

Dave, you own the documents. You do not own the copyright. Copyright ownership does not transfer with the purchase of a document. You have the right to use the facts presented in those documents since that data cannot be copyright. The expression of those facts as presented in the documents is what is copyright. Unless you have a written statement transferring that copyright to you or one that explicitly says that you may copy and distribute copies of the journals then you do not have permission to do so. There is not an implied consent to duplicate those journals and being genealogical is irrelevant to copyright.  That the author published quarterly and charged a fee is actually an indication that he was not giving permission.

It might be different if your family had hired him to do all the research and were the only people who received the results but these journals were sold to many people and are available in libraries including the US Library of Congress. WorldCat lists 9 libraries but they don't have all of the USA libraries represented. So definitely the works weren't done for hire.

I'm not opposed to what you propose but keep it legal and respect the WikiTree Honor Code (item VI). The family may well like to see them made available but you do have to get written permission from all heirs. Others were willing to help.

I agree with Doug and I am an attorney.
Darn attournys. I will respect your judgments.

But what about using Douglas or Richardson's stuff to research from. Isnt this the same thing? I guess only after much more time.
At least he seemed to have a genuine interest in the family.

I think he would want his work shared. He also credits a few others in helping him in his documentaion of the line. Not sure if they have claim too.
Using them as a source is perfectly acceptable as long as you give proper source citations. It is scanning the books and posting them that is not acceptable without permission.

The others who get credits are not the authors so have no claim.

Also, books published before 1924 are public domain in the USA.
How can I use them as a source if I cant capture the images? Quote hearsay? How are they sourced by others?
A proper source citation provide someone with a way to find the material. It may not be easy to access them, but they exist and can be found. Sources don't always have links to images. Citing sources predates the Internet. You can see exactly how to cite a source in a multivolume set on the website. Evidence Explained is the preferred source citation format for WikiTree.

With 9 libraries in the USA saying that they have copies and likely other libraries do as well plus you having copies in your possession (yes you can say that you used a personal copy in the citation) a source citation can be given that allows anyone else to locate a copy.
Your good Doug, and so is the advice. I will shelve this stuff for now.

But now that I started reading it, I cant stop.
If it would have been a snake it would have bitten me. A library could use THIS Stuff. Good work Doug and all.
+1 vote
As to the copyright question.... I don't know.

However, I have seen many profiles where people have already done just that. Save an image of the census sheet itself, and then upload it and attach it to multiple profiles.
by Eric Weddington G2G6 Pilot (225k points)
+1 vote
Just a thought:  It's not the information that is copyrighted.  Census data in the US is owned by the government = public (and I assume such is the case in most countries).  What is copyrighted is the image--someone had to photograph or scan all those documents.  (There is some dispute over whether this can be considered an original creative work meeting copyright requirements.)
by Kathy Rabenstein G2G6 Pilot (247k points)
Yes. The census images aren't entirely clear on this since the originals are public domain.

The journals mentioned are copyright and making images is technically a violation. Fair use would allow perhaps a couple of pages but not an entire journal.

It keeps coming back to this, The new image created from old source.

Kathy Rabenstein Really I guess what I need to know is, is it digitized? maybe not, I googled some of the text? found not much at all.

Doug found the library's Maybe the NARA needs a copy to scan in to the Archives? or do they do that sort of source? See I inherited the Gene and her junk from my mom. I was forced into this situation.

I have put it all on the internet, Five old lady's photos back to 1800.

death certs, wedding certs, over 1000 images of our photos and documents.

I will take a trip this year and scan others in the family in. I will document what I can!

NARA probably wouldn't want it unless there is some existing collection it would fit into (i.e. government events/programs). The Library of Congress already has the journals but don't seem to take genealogy papers. Some things to consider (no specific order implied):

  • your local or county genealogy society may be interested in the collection, especially if there are a number of your family in the area.
  • the local or county genealogy society in the area where your ancestors originally settled.
  • the local or county genealogy society where the publisher lived (Austin, TX?) although they would likely have the journals.
  • major library genealogy collections:
    • Dallas Public Library (Central). They have the journals but might be interested in the genealogical material.
    • Allen County Public Library (Indiana) may be interested in at least the journals. 
    • Mid-Continent Public Library (Kansas) is another major genealogy collection.
    • if a New England tie, the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston might be interested.
What to do with genealogical material is something all genealogists should consider. That is, what should happen to your files/data after your death. Without making a provision for them, most will just be trashed unless some family member steps in. Best to explicitly will them to where you want them to go. If not a family member, the arrangement needs to be done before adding to a will. An institution that doesn't want them will likely toss them if the boxes just show up.
+2 votes

This is an interesting article.  You might want to think about partnering with a library such as this.  I would think it might be more cost effective.  

by Laura Bozzay G2G6 Pilot (645k points)
That would work for the general project that Greg suggested but definitely not for the journals that Dave is referring to. Those come under the 1978 update to copyright law that made copyright the default condition rather than requiring registration. Anyway, there may be libraries interested in doing this. I had heard that the Family History Library was looking at scanning their books once the microfilm is all scanned. Not sure if that is still the plan.  One of the bigger public libraries that have really good genealogy collections might be open to such a project. Allen County Public Library in Indiana might be a good one. Could be a good option.

I am game for anyone who can use the material. I am not well and I inherited this stuff, I just do not want to see it end up in the trash!

Laura Bozzay yes and I kind of new they could kind of, I don't know why i didn't think of them right away! I guess I like the idea of free source on the web! But a library but does it matter which library or do they all share the Data already? because a s Doug pointed out the material is on the internet and in the library system in some form?

Dave I would first contact the genealogy department of your local library because If your materials pertain to local people they may want them.  

If not I would approach a free online library of your choice.
The tennesee encyclopedia has this line as one of the most important in the settlement of Tennessee and nc. The line is well documented and this is a lot of that actual work and material. The cencus for sumner / orange county Tennessee. You know an archive. On the Bledsoe family.

Google Issac Bledsoe. Then Drew Bledsoe rofl. He is my cousin from the texas Bledsoe group.

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