Friday, January 10, 2014

Your thoughts on this

What are your thoughts about people watching the obits in their local paper and then adding these people to Find A Grave, many times before they are even actually buried?  I am curious to know your opinion, good or bad.

How about people entering entire cemetery books onto Find A Grave without ever having visited the cemetery themselves?

These were two things we talked about at the last meeting of the Columbia County Genealogical Society.   Edie Reyes did an excellent presentation on how to add memorials to Find A Grave, how to upload photographs, how to add additional information and how to make corrections.  The above points came up in the discussion afterwards. 

 

Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

22 comments:

  1. Both are almost always copyright violations and shouldn't be done for that reason alone. In the case of recent deaths, that just feels wrong to me. Unless the deceased was your family, you have no idea how they may feel about having that memorial on Find A Grave so quickly and it's frankly not a stranger's place to do that, in my opinion. As a genealogist, I appreciate Find A Grave. I have had volunteers take photos for me and have filled a number of requests myself but I've also seen people who seem to be so obsessed with their "numbers" that they cross the line.

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    1. Well, FACTS are not copyrightable (is that a word?) so even if they are copying the info out of a book (or the paper) as long as all they are copying are names, dates and places then they are okay as far as copyright goes. However, it is the ethics of the whole thing that is making me a bit uncomfortable. A specific example, a 16 year old boy in our community was killed in a car wreck. His memorial appeared on Find A Grave before he was even buried. A photo request had been put in for this memorial and that is how I saw it. It just creeped me out (for lack of a better phrase).

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    2. While facts are not copyrightable (if that's not a word, it should be), the compilation in the book is. I'm no legal expert but I still believe there is a copyright issue with basically transcribing a book into Find A Grave. There are copyright notices in the front of most all those books for some reason.

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    3. This was discussed at length on the Association of Professional Genealogist email list (or it might have been on the Transitional Genealogists Forum list), either way, the exact example used was a compiled genealogy book. You can copy all the facts you want out of it. The only thing copyrightable is any added commentary the author added. This would apply to cemetery books as well.

      Here is a quote from the government's copyright page http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-general.html

      "Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed."

      Judy Russell, (a genealogist and an attorney all rolled into one) addressed this issue on her blog while answering a questions. http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog/2012/03/19/copyright-the-newspaper-article/ Scroll down to the question from Suzanne.

      Whether or not it is a copyright issue, what about the ethics of it?

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    4. Having the blog on a justified setting sure makes my answer look funny :)

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    5. Copying all the facts you want out of a book is one thing but is re-publishing that information (as in transcribing a cemetery book into Find A Grave) the same thing? That post of Judy's is about newspapers. I'm not sure if she's weighed in on cemetery books but to answer your question "what about the ethics of it?" I think sitting at a computer and transcribing an entire book into Find A Grave is unethical even if the legal line is thin enough for it not to be illegal..

      The FAQs on FInd A Grave even say not to post obits unless you have permission and not to post the names of surviving family without their permission. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?searchArg=obituaries&page=listFaqs#89.

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    6. This is totally off topic but I have to mention it. I clicked on the link you provided about the obituaries and the example they gave came from the Hattiesburg American! I consider that my home paper :) Okay, back to the topic... Another related thing to what you said about transcribing obits that contain the names of living people... It is also against the Find A Grave rules to upload pictures of double markers when the spouse doesn't have a death date. I wonder... Should Find A Grave put some sort of restriction such as you can''t add a memorial unless the person has been dead X number of years?

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    7. Probably they should but I don't think many people read the terms of service so it's unlikely adding that kind of restriction would make much difference. And I have story about headstones without a DOD.

      I was surprised to find memorials for both of my parents about a year ago. Granted my father has been dead for 12 years but on some level I must not have been ready to add him to Find A Grave because I hadn't done it. My mother, however, is very much alive. There is no DOD on that headstone and her DOB makes it clear she could easily be living. When I contacted the person about removing my mother's memorial and the photo on my father's (because of her info) she apologized and said she had no way of knowing she was still living. Really? The lack of a DOD on a stone, her DOB and those seasonal flowers in the vases might have been clues but I didn't say that. She deleted Mom but did not delete the photo from Dad's memorial so I contacted her again asking for the memorial to be transferred to me. The response was mind-blowing, saying how rude I was and what good work she was doing and how much she had helped people. She deleted the memorial rather than transferring it to me. If I ever have an issue with another one of these folks with huge numbers, I'll address it with Find A Grave directly instead of contacting the individual.

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  2. I have mixed feelings. First, I think it's good to have memorials on as many people as information can be discovered. Second, the information available from a death listing and many obituaries is limited; that can result in a memorial with inadequate or erroneous information. Additionally, one of the great benefits of a memorial is when the memorial has a bio and links to spouses, children and parents and provides some detail of the individual's life plus photos. In order for that to happen, the person doing the memorial needs to have more knowledge of the person than can be gleaned by a stranger reading a death listing. When that happens, the memorial creator needs to be willing to either add details, photos and links as requested or transfer the memorial to someone who can and will maintain it. When my cousin died a couple of years ago, following her funeral, I started to add a memorial page for her with links to her parents' memorials; I was surprised to discover that someone had already put up a memorial for her before she was buried - it had no maiden name, no birth date or location and certainly no biographical detail. It was a fluke that I even noted there was already a memorial for her; I would typically not have see such a memorial and would have thus prepared a duplicate one. I contacted the person and asked that they either add the information and links I would send them or transfer the memorial to me. They opted to do the later and I then added the detail.

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    1. Funny you should say. One of the members of the CCGS that was at the meeting said that she was having a hard time getting people to transfers these memorials to her. I know it has to be frustrating when this happens. In your case it worked out for the best and you got the memorial.

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  3. I entered a memorial for my brother in 2004. Four years later, a man who goes to libraries and adds memorials from cemetery books, added a second memorial for him. Despite two requests sent to the man, he has not responded or taken his memorial down.

    If such people were accurate and did not end up creating duplicate memorials, adding names from books could be a great help, but that doesn't seem to be the case in many instances. Most contributors are quite helpful and quick to respond to any communications, but when I look at a contributor's bio and find they have entered thousands of memorials, I am very leery of anything they have posted. These are no doubt many of the same people who brag about having family trees online with thousands of names. They neglect to say they have not verified any of the information and provide ZERO documentation. Their games is one of numbers, not history and certainly not genealogy.

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  4. Excellent points. The top contributors to Find A Grave have more than 1 million memorials. Most of the ones in the top 50 have more than 100,000. I am guessing that they didn't visit each one of these graves sites :)

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  5. My personal opinion about the obituaries is that it's thoughtless and hurtful. Let the family enter those memorials, or wait 6 months or a year to add them. There are a LOT of wonderful things about FindaGrave. The resource for genealogists is tremendous and I've made many a discovery in the site. I thank all the volunteers. When I submit a photo request and it's fulfilled it makes my day. But, let a family have some time before entering the info straight from the obit.
    As for transcribing cemetery books. I'm actually ok with that. At least the names are getting out there and helping family to find their ancestors and loved ones.

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  6. I love FindaGrave and have several memorials but a memorial was created for my grandmother back in October immediately after her obituary showed up in the newspaper. The reason I found out about it was the contributor transferred the memorial to me and I got an email about it. She put the obituary on, too. I was glad to have the control because I removed the obituary. I'm not quite ready to have living people listed on the FindaGrave site yet. I was pretty upset when I saw the email. My grandmother hadn't been buried yet either.

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  7. One problem with copying from published cemetery readings is that often the authors have added data, such as full vital dates or maiden names, that are not on the actual markers. I much prefer an actual gravestone reading, and am ever-so-grateful for those who post photographs. Memorial creators often do the same thing, taking material from death records or obituaries without saying so. I think this is sloppy and not helpful.

    I also object to those who create memorials for persons whose place of burial is not known to be in a given cemetery, and stick them in X cemetery based on speculation. Even where a burial place is given in a death record, often the actual burial was elsewhere, including the complications involved in legal vacation of a cemetery and remains moved elsewhere.


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    1. I have created memorials for people based on what is recorded on a death certificate or an obituary. I then request a photo.

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  8. I am VERY against people creating memorials even before the funeral. It takes family members time to accept a loved ones death. People need to respect that. I know the obituaries are in the newspapers right away, but that is so that people know when/where the funeral will be. The family does want people to attend. I'm sure there are very few people who check findagrave to see when someone's funeral is. People need to wait to create memorials for recently deceased.
    As for creating memorials from cemetery listings, I think it's great if they are old burials. That's the information that will really help someone with their family history. I know that's not the only reason for findagrave. When I am looking thru old newspapers and find an obituary, if I have time I check findagrave and if that person is not there I create a memorial if the cemetery is mentioned. If they are already there, I transcribe the obit and send a SAC.

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  9. I live in Oregon, and my maternal grandmother's family members lived and (mostly) died in Pittsburgh, PA. It appears to me that someone there has added to Find-a-Grave all the names they could find in some type of cemetery records they had access to.

    I am ecstatic that they did so!! They included grave site information, and I was able to deduce possible family members that I had been unaware of, as I saw the proximity of certain graves. Armed with name, birth date, and death date, I was able to find birth and death records for these people on FamilySearch; those records corroborated the relationships! In addition, my requests for photographs were graciously fulfilled.

    I have records and photographs that I may never have gathered without the 'boost' given to me by the entries made by someone who was on the spot and could do so, using cemetery records. I eventually even received a photograph of a grave marker that was in a section I had been told (by a cemetery employee) no longer had visible markers!

    From my own experience in photographing grave for people, I know how helpful it is to know the grave location; and in the case I am referring to, that was possible because the records were being entered from cemetery records.

    These were deaths in the 1800's and early 1900's.

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  10. I am very against memorials being created even before the funeral. People need to respect the family's need for time to accept the death. There is no reason to rush getting the memorial up.

    As for entering names from cemetery listings, I don't mind someone doing that especially with old records. It can help those burials get found by people who don't know where they are. Mistakes are everywhere and they can be fixed.

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  12. If a close family member wants to add a memorial before the funeral, I'm okay with that. When my mother died last year, one of the first things I did was add a memorial for her so that I didn't have to worry about anyone else doing it and then not transferring it to me.

    I'm still trying to determine how I feel about someone else adding the photo from the obituary to my mother's memorial. I have no problem with the photo being included but it's nagging at me that it's MY photo that I added to the obituary that I wrote. And now I can't delete the photo without the individual's permission. Somehow that just really bothers me. And the more I think about it, the more I think I'm going to contact him and ask for him to remove it.

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