My Copyright Was Infringed!
by Mike Goad
|This article is
available for free distribution and reprint as a public service from the
author. Please read conditions at the end of the article.
While looking for pages linked to our internet sites, I
came across some material that looked astonishingly familiar, so familiar,
in fact, that it was the entire text from one of my web sites.
The really amazing and ironic aspect of the whole
thing was that the site that was copied was a site on get this
Not only that, but it was published on a county GenWeb
site hosted on RootsWeb.
After the realization of what I found sank in, I looked
for and found the e-mail addresses of the people I would need to contact in
order to remedy the copyright infringement of my material. Then I wrote a
message that laid out the situation as I saw it, though I did give the
benefit of the doubt by requesting that they provide a copy of any
permission document that they might have received, just in case I had given
permission and didnt remember. Unlikely, of course, but possible, I guess.
I tried to be nice and polite in the email. I told
I welcomed links to my site but that I had a problem with someone
taking my original expression and placing it on their site.
Using my material was not only copyright infringement, but also
plagiarism since the arrangement of the page did not identify the author of
I would be contacting RootsWeb about the infringing material residing
on their servers.
I figured that I would wait
a couple of days before I took any action to contact RootsWeb about it.
I didnt have to.
The same day I sent the
email, I got a response telling me that it had been removed and that the
material was something that had been submitted by a volunteer. They
explained to me that there was no way that county coordinators could take
the time to verify the copyright status of every bit of material that was
submitted, and I agree with that, for the most part.
Ideally, all submitters and
all webmasters would be knowledgeable on copyright law and be able to
determine very easily what is protected by copyright and what is not.
Realistically, copyright is
not often well understood and determining whether something is protected or
not is not always easy. Compounding the problem with understanding
copyright is the amount of misinformation that is available on the internet
from people who, for the most part, are well-intentioned.
The misinformation and misunderstanding of copyright as
it relates to genealogy is what led several years ago to my researching
copyright. I found the topic to be very interesting and have developed
on-line material related to it. I continue writing about copyright today
with the hopes of trying to help others have a better understanding of it.
Related to the copyright infringement of my material,
there are two other articles that are available for reprint and
Both articles are located with other articles,
including this one, on this site at
Copy Right, Copy Sense articles page.
I very much appreciate and thank once more the GenWeb
county coordinators who responded so wonderfully and correctly to the
copyright infringement that was found on their site. They demonstrated that
copyright can, in fact, work in our genealogy community without recourse to
contacting internet service providers or filing suit.
August 16, 2003
|This article is available for free
distribution and reprint as a public service from the author provided:
(1) it is not edited and these conditions appear on all copies, including
(2) a link is provided to http://www.pddoc.com/copyright if the
article is used in a web page on another site.