Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Possible Threat to this Genealogy Web Site???

Wikipedia has blacked itself out today  and carries the following message:
Wikipedia is protesting against SOPA and PIPA by blacking out the English Wikipedia for 24 hours, beginning at midnight January 18, Eastern Time. Readers who come to English Wikipedia during the blackout will not be able to read the encyclopedia: instead, they will see messages intended to raise awareness about SOPA and PIPA, and encouraging them to share their views with their elected representatives, and via social media.
Basically what is happening is that Online Piracy Laws are being considered in the United States which could have the effect of  banning access to web sites world wide which breach U.S. copyright laws. This could mean that in theory at least if I posted something on the Genealogy web site which was technically in breach of copyright people in the United States could not access the site - and search engines such as Google would not be allowed to index the site. (About 80% of the first times visitors to the site find it using Google.)

Of course there are technical copyright violations on my web site. For example, I often reproduce the cover, the dust jacket text, and one or two short extracts from a copyright book to let visitors to this site know of the book's existence. This would presumably be OK if the author or publisher had provided me with a copy for review - but if I have purchased a copy and not sought permission ... I also find that, due to oversight I have failed to acknowledge the sources of some of the free clip art I have used, and have lost the original details. There may be a few other accidental violations.

I am quite clear about my approach to copyright material - and in over 10 year's operation I have only had two messages from copyright holders and both were resolved easily and amicably. In one case I had used a picture as a slide in a public lecture and then reproduced the slide on the site without acknowledging the source. The other case involved the pages about the death of my daughter Belinda where I had quoted a "A reason, a season, or a lifetime"  which she had prepared to be sent to her friends when she died, and where I had not know the origin.

Hopefully the US will not enact such a potentially draconian law - and this is all a storm in a teacup. The problem is that many people do blatantly violate the rights of others by posting extensive copyright material on the internet and this makes it very difficult for educationalists like myself who want to encourage people to  use the original sources whene this is at all possible.

1 comment:

  1. I gather that because of the protests about the possibility of censoring sites the threat to introduce US legislation has been dropped, at least for the time being. Maybe there needs to be something done about deliberate piracy of copyright materials but the proposals were clearly way over the top.


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