Archive for July, 2013

July 26, 2013

The Internet and the Public Domain: Usually Two Different Things

Some people erroneously believe that if it’s been published on the Internet, it’s in the public domain. For the vast majority of works, including blog posts and web sites, this is simply not true. Even if a work does not carry a copyright notice, either the standard one or a license under Creative Commons (or something of that nature), and even if it’s not formally registered, it still falls under the protection of federal (and likely international) copyright laws.

The only exceptions to this are things like government web sites and publications (because the government is a public entity, its publications are always in the public domain) and works where the copyright protection has lapsed, such as many of the older books that have been digitized by Google, etc. Even still, common practice and standards in genealogy dictate that these should be appropriately attributed.

Let’s be frank, folks: Copying someone else’s work without proper attribution is plagiarism, regardless of whether or not a work is protected by copyright or license.

It’s unethical, if not outright illegal, to take someone else’s work and pass it off as one’s own. And when someone blatantly plagiarizes another person’s work, the solution is not to ignore it or titter behind one’s hand, like school children on a playground, but to bring this infraction to the public’s attention in a manner that is calm and rational.

Me? No one could accuse me of possessing either trait. My first reaction is always to go in with fists flying. (Or maybe cast iron pans. Hey, whatever’s handy.) Hmm. That must be the Scots-Irish in me…

July 25, 2013

Letting the Links Do the Talking

Copyright, plagiarism, and citing your sources by Michael Hait on his blog Planting the Seeds. Also, the slide show at the bottom of that post, “‘Top Ten Rules of Genealogy’: A Case in Plagiarism.”

Barry Ewell: Prayer is the most important tool I have as a genealogist (an excerpt from Ewell’s book Family Treasures: 15 Lessons, Tips, and Tricks for Discovering Your Family) by Barry Ewell, published in the Deseret News.

July 14, 2013

A Sunday Walk Around the Blogs

Stephanie West, an archaeology student at the University of West Georgia, is digging up swampland in Richmond Co., GA, along the Savannah River searching for clues to that area’s prehistoric settlements.

The Knitting Genealogist shares a fascinating look at a broken down brick wall in her family in Magenta Divine, which explores the generations-long involvement of these families in the wool industry.

Hoyt Bleakley and Joseph Ferrie have published the draft form of a paper titled Up from Poverty? The 1832 Cherokee Land Lottery and the Long-Run Distribution of Wealth. It should be noted that the reasons for distributing land in Georgia through a lottery system had nothing to do with helping the poor or distributing wealth, in and of itself. Instead, the system was undertaken because of earlier fraudulent practices, as the authors rightly explain. This paper should be very useful to genealogists who are concerned with the effects historical events had on their ancestors. Thanks to Harold Henderson for pointing it out.

Dave Lynch of 200 Years in Paradise has an interesting post Law & Order: Research & Proof in Genealogy, inspired by recent discussions in one of the groups studying Thomas W. Jones’ Mastering Genealogical Proof