Jan 28, 2022

(+) Who Owns the Data?

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.

Disclaimer: This article makes several statements about the laws of the United States. Please keep in mind that I am not a lawyer and am not trained in legal affairs. However, I have discussed these issues with several attorneys who specialize in intellectual property issues and I have also done a lot of reading. This article reflects my opinions which have been shaped by what I have read and what I have been told.

I will point out what I believe are obvious facts. However, nothing in this article should be treated as legal advice. If you have questions, you are advised to seek legal council from someone who is versed in intellectual property issues.

I frequently receive email messages from genealogists complaining that someone else has “stolen” their data. Recently, I received a message from a newsletter reader asking how we can encrypt our data before uploading it to protect it from people who want to “steal” it. Today’s correspondent wanted to find a method of “hiding” the data from unknown people so that he could control the data being sent to only people he approved of. Then he was hoping to find a method of preventing those people from forwarding “his” data to others.

I have one question: why?

Where did you obtain “your” information? I bet it came from census records, birth records, marriage records, and death records, right? In the United States and in many other countries (but not all), that information is public domain. It is not “your data,” regardless of where you obtained it.

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