Genealogy and Copyright Rights

Kimberly Powell of About Genealogy asks and answers a good question: “Can You Copyright Your Family Tree?”

One subject which is always good for a passionate discussion among genealogists is the issue of copyright laws as they pertain to genealogy. Some feel the family data they compile and place in GEDCOM files or on the Web is protected by copyright. Others are of the opinion that everything genealogy-related on the Internet is public information and free for the taking. The remaining genealogists cover the spectrum of opinions between the two extremes…

Copyright law in the U.S. does not protect data, only the presentation of the data. This is an important point for genealogists, because it means that facts (names, dates, places, etc.) presented in a standard format, such as a pedigree chart or GEDCOM file, are not protected by copyright. However, if you take this data and present it in your own unique format, such as a narrative, then the presentation of the material is protected by copyright, even when the facts are not.

For more information on copyrights and genealogy research, data, and publication of your family history information, see:

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About Lorelle VanFossen

Lorelle VanFossen hosts Family History Blog covering her ancestors and related family members. She is one of the top bloggers in the world, and host of the Lorelle on WordPress, providing WordPress and blogging tips for bloggers of all levels. A popular keynote speaker and trainer, she is also editor, producer, contributor, and official disruptive thinker for Bitwire Media which includes WordCast, Making My Life Network, Stories of Our Journeys, Life on the Road, WordCast Conversations, and the very popular WordCast Podcast.
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