|A Findagrave.com photo that I took and don't care who knows it.|
If you have read this blog for any amount of time you know that I hold copyright very dear to my heart. I have posted numerous links to public domain photos and content. But I believe that Find A Grave should be in the same realm. The photos are uploaded by users for the intent of sharing content. If they didn't want them shared with the world they wouldn't have posted them in the first place. I have posted numerous photos and have seen the same photos on several trees on Ancestry.com. I don't care because I wanted to share the images to help other people. After all, that is the intent of the Find A Grave site.
From the Findagrave.com FAQs page:
Why did you create Find A Grave?
We believe this information is important for many reasons. It is of great historical importance to have a record of all those who have been a part of our collective humanity. Burial information is a wonderful resource for people researching their families (genealogists). Most importantly, visiting a gravesite is a way of keeping the memory of someone alive. We aim to create a comprehensive 'virtual cemetery' where loved ones can visit graves, leave flowers, etc. when they cannot do so in real life due to geography, finances or other circumstances.
So, what is the issue? If Find A Grave is a free site whose content is loaded by its end users, why the need for the copyright restriction? I completely understand Find A Grave's need to cover themselves with the copyright mention on their facts page. However, I believe that in order to post images to the site the users should comply to an agreement that the photos they upload become part of the public domain available for use by the general public. After all, we're talking about photos of gravestones, not something you are going to sell at an art gallery. As for photos of individuals and newspaper clippings, that is the user's choice, but newspaper clipping images don't technically belong to them either.
The bottom line is this: If you want to retain copyright to an image and squirrel it away for yourself, don't post it on a publicly accessible and free website. It's that simple. I don't think there is any need, in this instance, to request the use of the photos. I think it should be inherent. What are your thoughts?