16:44 PM

About That Swiped Photograph...


 If it’s not our photograph, and we don’t have permission, we can’t grab it and put it on another website.

First off, we’d likely be violating the copyright of the photographer. Second, we’d likely be violating the terms of use of the website where we found the photograph. And, third, we’d definitely be violating the terms of use of FamilySearch.

Let’s take these one by one.

Copyright is legal protection given to the creator of an original work, like the person who takes the time to go out and carefully craft a good photo of a tombstone. Copyright law gives the photographer the exclusive right to say what copies can be made of that photo and what can be done with them for a very long time — the life of the photographer plus 70 years. For anyone else to use a copy of that photo, we need the photographer’s permission.

We can’t simply crop out the copyright statement and use the image anyway. That sort of action proves we knew there was a copyright and deliberately disregarded it — and that opens us up to what’s called statutory damages: a legal penalty of up to $150,000 under the federal copyright statute.

Terms of use — or terms and conditions — are the limits somebody who owns something you want to see or copy or use puts on whether or not he’ll let you see or copy or use it. These are limits that are different from copyright protection, since the law says what is and isn’t copyrighted and you can own a thing without owning the copyright. So this isn’t copyright law; it’s contract law — you and whoever owns the thing you want to see or copy or use reach a deal.