Copyright and Copywrongs: The law for Genealogists
Materials and records created by others are the bread-and-butter of genealogy. But whether the law allows use of old photographs, reports and articles can be murky at best. Born in the laws of the United Kingdom in the Statute of Anne (1710), enshrined in the United States Constitution (1789), and incorporated into international law in the Berne Convention (1886), copyright law is complicated, and violations can be expensive. Staying out of trouble requires understanding what’s copyrighted and what isn’t, when and how copyrighted materials can be used, and how to handle issues that arise. In Copyright and Copywrongs: The Law for Genealogists, we’ll review the basics of copyright law around the world, dispel some persistent myths about what is and isn’t protected, and offer tips for finding materials we can freely use without copyright concerns.
The Legal Genealogist Judy G. Russell is a genealogist with a law degree. She writes, teaches and lectures on a wide variety of genealogical topics, ranging from using court records in family history to understanding DNA testing. A Colorado native with roots deep in the American south on her mother’s side and entirely in Germany on her father’s side, she holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a political science minor from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and a law degree from Rutgers School of Law-Newark. She has worked as a newspaper reporter, trade association writer, legal investigator, defence attorney, federal prosecutor, law editor and, for more than 20 years before her retirement in 2014, was an adjunct member of the faculty at Rutgers Law School.
She is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, the National Genealogical Society and numerous state and regional genealogical societies. She has written for the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (from which she received the 2017 Award of Excellence), the National Genealogical Society Magazine, the FGS Forum, BCG’s OnBoard, and Family Tree Magazine, among other publications.
On the faculty of the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research, the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute, and the Genealogical Institute on Federal Records, she is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, from which she holds credentials as a Certified Genealogist® and Certified Genealogical Lecturer℠. Her award-winning blog appears at The Legal Genealogist website (http://www.legalgenealogist.com).