Stay Tuned…

Last Sunday, at Scanfest, I mentioned to Jasia that I never seem to run out of ideas to blog about, but I do run out of time to get them written in an efficient manner. For instance, right now I have 13 posts sitting in my drafts folder, with another 3 or 4 ideas in my head. Let’s not even talk about my AnceStories2 blog, which I’ve sadly neglected, but for which I have half a dozen posts started as well!

I had hoped to get the next “issue” in the story of my great-grandfather’s service in the American North Russian Expeditionary Forces (ANREF) posted early this week. Then a little matter sprang up in the online genealogy world and I was busy keeping my readers updated on that!

So the last two afternoons and evenings I’ve done more research on that next ANREF post…but the more I research I do and information I uncover, the more I want to know! Oh, yeah, I also want to participate in the next Carnival of Genealogy, too!

Stay tuned…!

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Stay Tuned…

Last Sunday, at Scanfest, I mentioned to Jasia that I never seem to run out of ideas to blog about, but I do run out of time to get them written in an efficient manner. For instance, right now I have 13 posts sitting in my drafts folder, with another 3 or 4 ideas in my head. Let’s not even talk about my AnceStories2 blog, which I’ve sadly neglected, but for which I have half a dozen posts started as well!

I had hoped to get the next “issue” in the story of my great-grandfather’s service in the American North Russian Expeditionary Forces (ANREF) posted early this week. Then a little matter sprang up in the online genealogy world and I was busy keeping my readers updated on that!

So the last two afternoons and evenings I’ve done more research on that next ANREF post…but the more I research I do and information I uncover, the more I want to know! Oh, yeah, I also want to participate in the next Carnival of Genealogy, too!

Stay tuned…!

Another Must-Visit Website: Shoestring Genealogy

With my new layout and then the hubbub over the Ancestry.com situation, you may not have noticed that I have added another site to my Must-Visit Websites area (left-hand sidebar). “Shoestring Genealogy focuses on lowering the costs of research and raising the quality of information obtained,” according to their mission statement. As a family historian and genealogist by avocation, I am always looking for prudent ways to cut my expenses without decreasing the quality of my research. There is a wealth of treasure on this site, from links to free forms, presentations, chat rooms, and tips, just to skim the surface. Dae Powell has done a wonderful job with the content, as well as designing a fantastic new look to the site (for us Firefox users, this site works best with Internet Explorer). Dae also created–at my request for something that would fit my blog’s sidebar and stand out–the beautiful linking graphic that you see under “Must-Visit Websites.”

I was honored that Dae awarded me the GENTREK Seal of Approval, even though I had never heard of GENTREK before! I learned that it “is a special teaching chat that presents a different genealogy topic every week to help you along your GENealogy TREK.” The topics are listed in alpha order, by author, and by presentation date, for ease of navigation. Don’t they look interesting?

There are a lot of fabulous resources at these sites, and I encourage you to browse around. As my friend Donna Potter Phillips says, “if you don’t spend at least a half-an-hour on a new site, you are missing things!”

Another Must-Visit Website: Shoestring Genealogy

With my new layout and then the hubbub over the Ancestry.com situation, you may not have noticed that I have added another site to my Must-Visit Websites area (left-hand sidebar). “Shoestring Genealogy focuses on lowering the costs of research and raising the quality of information obtained,” according to their mission statement. As a family historian and genealogist by avocation, I am always looking for prudent ways to cut my expenses without decreasing the quality of my research. There is a wealth of treasure on this site, from links to free forms, presentations, chat rooms, and tips, just to skim the surface. Dae Powell has done a wonderful job with the content, as well as designing a fantastic new look to the site (for us Firefox users, this site works best with Internet Explorer). Dae also created–at my request for something that would fit my blog’s sidebar and stand out–the beautiful linking graphic that you see under “Must-Visit Websites.”

I was honored that Dae awarded me the GENTREK Seal of Approval, even though I had never heard of GENTREK before! I learned that it “is a special teaching chat that presents a different genealogy topic every week to help you along your GENealogy TREK.” The topics are listed in alpha order, by author, and by presentation date, for ease of navigation. Don’t they look interesting?

There are a lot of fabulous resources at these sites, and I encourage you to browse around. As my friend Donna Potter Phillips says, “if you don’t spend at least a half-an-hour on a new site, you are missing things!”

Ancestry.com: Copyright Violations?

(Updates to this issue appear at the bottom of this post.)

There’s a bit of a hubbub in the genea-blogging world today, if you haven’t noticed. Seems that Ancestry.com has spidered and cached many genealogy websites and blogs and posted excerpts of their content and thumbnails of their home pages to their Internet Biographical Collection database. And that has a lot of genea-bloggers (and possibly genealogy site webmasters) a bit upset. The content of many of those blogs and sites are covered by copyright, and are not to be quoted or copied in any manner by those who will profit from them, without permission. At first, it seems, this database was only available to those who had a subscription to Ancestry. It appears that later today, it was changed to a free database.

That may cover Ancestry legally for its use of content (text); but it may not cover it for its use of images. For instance, my website, also named AnceStories, was created with free background images. However, I had to obtain the image creators’ permissions, in several cases, to use those graphics. The artists were very clear that those images could not be resized or reused in any way, for any purpose, without permission. So a thumbnail of my website’s home page posted on another site could possibly be in violation of those terms of use, even if Ancestry doesn’t profit from it.

This all seems a bit hard to swallow considering two things happening just in the past four months:

  • * Ancestry demanded that Michael John Neill remove the images of census, draft cards and ships manifest lists of famous people from his blog, saying it violated their licensing agreement (links here and here). Never mind that this was giving Ancestry great publicity–and more importantly–Michael had received previous staff’s permission to do so.
  • * Ancestry threatened legal action against FreeOnAncestry.com (by the same creators of well-known genealogy website, Interment.net) saying they could not use the word “ancestry” as part of their URL. This site listed databases that were available for free on Ancestry, either permanently, or as a part of publicity “gimmicks,” so to speak; i.e. military records databases around Veterans Day, or African-American databases during Black History month, etc. Again, the web owner had the previous staff’s permission, and again, it was positive, free publicity for Ancestry; a great way to be notified of an opportunity to try out a free database and decide if you wanted to purchase a subscription.

I don’t appreciate Ancestry’s heavy-handedness in the two cases above. While they may be staying within the letter of the law, is it fair to the genealogical community, one that relies strongly upon the kindness and generosity of others–think Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness, for instance– to treat people this way? Is it fair, or ethical, or moral after these actions, to turn around and violate people’s terms of use or skirt around possible copyright infringements? What do you think?

I first read about all this from Amy Crooks of Untangled Family Roots. She’s been followed by Kimberly Powell of About.com Genealogy, Janice Brown of Cow Hampshire, Becky Wiseman of kinexxions, Chris Dunham of The Genealogue, and Randy Seaver of Genea-musings. I’ll update this list as necessary.

By the way, Janice has a list of the blogs she’s found in this cache, and I added to it in the comments.

UPDATE: (Tuesday, 28 Aug 2007) Susan Kitchens of Family Oral History Using Digital Tools has a hilarious parody of Ancestry’s home page here. Be sure to scroll down to see an enlarged view of this graphic!

UPDATE #2: (Wednesday, 29 Aug 2007) Late last night and this morning I read with interest more bloggers’ opinions on this subject: Jasia of Creative Gene, Dick Eastman of Eastman’s Online Genealogical Newsletter, Denise Olson of Family Matters, Craig Manson of GeneaBlogie, Lori Thornton of Smoky Mountain Family Historian, Steve Danko of Steve’s Genealogy’s Blog, Bill West of West in New England all had interesting points to make, and not necessarily were all in agreement (which makes for a good and lively discussion, I think!). There may be more genea-bloggers out there who’ve made points on this hot topic, but these were all the ones that are on my Google Reader. If you or someone you know has blogged about this, please leave a comment or contact me (my e-mail address is listed in my profile; link in right-hand sidebar).

(Another blogger who posted on this topic on this day was Schelley Talalay Dardashti from Tracing the Tribe.)

UPDATE #3 (The Storm Rages On): (Wednesday, 28 Aug 2007) For those of my readers who are not already genea-bloggers and thus may not have be aware of the lastest updates, here are additional posts on this hot topic written by some of the aforementioned bloggers: Kimberly Powell at About.com: Genealogy, Becky Wiseman at kinexxions; Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings; Amy Crooks at Untangled Family Roots; and Craig Manson of GeneaBlogie. It’s also interesting to read the many comments posted by the readers of Dick Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter and Dick, himself, to his two posts, “The Generations Network Receives Patent for Correlating Genealogy Records” and “Internet Biographical Collection is Free at Ancestry.com”. There are also many comments at Ancestry’s blog, 24-7 Family History Circle on the post, “Internet Biographical Information is Free at Ancestry.”

In addition, I found more on this topic at these posts: Jessica Oswalt at Jessica’s Genejournal, Leland Meitzler of Genealogy Blog, and Pat Richley of DearMYRTLE: Your Friend in Genealogy. Ol’ Myrt brings up a valid point about the “Numbers Game,” that is definitely worth reading.

UPDATE #4 (Resolution…for the time being): (Wednesday, 29 Aug 2007) Ancestry.com has removed its Internet Biographical Collection, for now. See their 24-7 Family History Circle blog here (don’t forget to read the comments).

The following genea-bloggers had their response as well. I encourage you to read them, because some of these contain interesting facts and intriguing analogies:

UPDATE #5 (More genea-bloggers weigh in): (Thursday, 30 Aug 2007) I found a few more responses to the IBD furor/removal this morning:

And you really should go over and read Tim Agazio’s non-commentary on the situation, “So, What’s New in the Genealogy World?” It’s quite amusing.

Thank you to whomever informed me that I had a bad link to Becky Wiseman’s kinexxions blog in yesterday’s Update #4. Sheesh…she’s gotten the brunt of my poor memory (I listed her as Becky Phend earlier this week) and spelling mistakes (thus the bad link) these last few days.

UPDATE #6: (Thursday, 30 Aug 2007) I forgot to add another response to the IBD issue this morning. Actually, there are two by GeneaBlogie author, Craig Manson, here and here. I read with interest that Craig, a law and public policy professor, has been having conversations about this matter with his colleagues, and will be posting a series on his blog about the legal issues involved. Stay tuned!

New Look for AnceStories

To my delight, I realized that I did not have to attend the training at my school district that I had signed up for today, because they are courses for standards I’ve already achieved. I’m relieved because I was up too late last night to pick up my daughter from a youth group activity, and six hours of sitting yesterday had wiped me out! This gave me another morning to work on my blogs and another afternoon to prepare my home and family for back to school.

You’ve probably noticed the slightly different look of the blog today. I found a layout for three columns for this template at Blogcrowds. Changing the layout didn’t take long…adding back my widgets, ads and links took much longer. Fortunately, I thought to save all the coding for these to Notepad ahead of time, or I’d be gnashing my teeth!

I’m hoping with the graphics and ads on the left and the text links on the right, it won’t look quite so visually overwhelming, and perhaps be easier to navigate.

New features include my “Popular Posts of 2007,” found in the right sidebar under “Blog Archives.” I’ve got links to the posts that had the most hits for each month this year, for easy finding. I’ve also added icons for quick bookmarking and RSS feed at the top of the right sidebar. My Categories are no longer in drop-down menu style, but in a list, with the hopes that some of my surnames will catch readers’ eyes. I’m now an affiliate for Genealogical.com; be sure to check out their great books for sale to build your home library (see second banner ad on the left sidebar)!

Ancestry.com: Copyright Violations?

(Updates to this issue appear at the bottom of this post.)

There’s a bit of a hubbub in the genea-blogging world today, if you haven’t noticed. Seems that Ancestry.com has spidered and cached many genealogy websites and blogs and posted excerpts of their content and thumbnails of their home pages to their Internet Biographical Collection database. And that has a lot of genea-bloggers (and possibly genealogy site webmasters) a bit upset. The content of many of those blogs and sites are covered by copyright, and are not to be quoted or copied in any manner by those who will profit from them, without permission. At first, it seems, this database was only available to those who had a subscription to Ancestry. It appears that later today, it was changed to a free database.

That may cover Ancestry legally for its use of content (text); but it may not cover it for its use of images. For instance, my website, also named AnceStories, was created with free background images. However, I had to obtain the image creators’ permissions, in several cases, to use those graphics. The artists were very clear that those images could not be resized or reused in any way, for any purpose, without permission. So a thumbnail of my website’s home page posted on another site could possibly be in violation of those terms of use, even if Ancestry doesn’t profit from it.

This all seems a bit hard to swallow considering two things happening just in the past four months:

  • * Ancestry demanded that Michael John Neill remove the images of census, draft cards and ships manifest lists of famous people from his blog, saying it violated their licensing agreement (links here and here). Never mind that this was giving Ancestry great publicity–and more importantly–Michael had received previous staff’s permission to do so.
  • * Ancestry threatened legal action against FreeOnAncestry.com (by the same creators of well-known genealogy website, Interment.net) saying they could not use the word “ancestry” as part of their URL. This site listed databases that were available for free on Ancestry, either permanently, or as a part of publicity “gimmicks,” so to speak; i.e. military records databases around Veterans Day, or African-American databases during Black History month, etc. Again, the web owner had the previous staff’s permission, and again, it was positive, free publicity for Ancestry; a great way to be notified of an opportunity to try out a free database and decide if you wanted to purchase a subscription.

I don’t appreciate Ancestry’s heavy-handedness in the two cases above. While they may be staying within the letter of the law, is it fair to the genealogical community, one that relies strongly upon the kindness and generosity of others–think Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness, for instance– to treat people this way? Is it fair, or ethical, or moral after these actions, to turn around and violate people’s terms of use or skirt around possible copyright infringements? What do you think?

I first read about all this from Amy Crooks of Untangled Family Roots. She’s been followed by Kimberly Powell of About.com Genealogy, Janice Brown of Cow Hampshire, Becky Wiseman of kinexxions, Chris Dunham of The Genealogue, and Randy Seaver of Genea-musings. I’ll update this list as necessary.

By the way, Janice has a list of the blogs she’s found in this cache, and I added to it in the comments.

UPDATE: (Tuesday, 28 Aug 2007) Susan Kitchens of Family Oral History Using Digital Tools has a hilarious parody of Ancestry’s home page here. Be sure to scroll down to see an enlarged view of this graphic!

UPDATE #2: (Wednesday, 29 Aug 2007) Late last night and this morning I read with interest more bloggers’ opinions on this subject: Jasia of Creative Gene, Dick Eastman of Eastman’s Online Genealogical Newsletter, Denise Olson of Family Matters, Craig Manson of GeneaBlogie, Lori Thornton of Smoky Mountain Family Historian, Steve Danko of Steve’s Genealogy’s Blog, Bill West of West in New England all had interesting points to make, and not necessarily were all in agreement (which makes for a good and lively discussion, I think!). There may be more genea-bloggers out there who’ve made points on this hot topic, but these were all the ones that are on my Google Reader. If you or someone you know has blogged about this, please leave a comment or contact me (my e-mail address is listed in my profile; link in right-hand sidebar).

(Another blogger who posted on this topic on this day was Schelley Talalay Dardashti from Tracing the Tribe.)

UPDATE #3 (The Storm Rages On): (Wednesday, 28 Aug 2007) For those of my readers who are not already genea-bloggers and thus may not have be aware of the lastest updates, here are additional posts on this hot topic written by some of the aforementioned bloggers: Kimberly Powell at About.com: Genealogy, Becky Wiseman at kinexxions; Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings; Amy Crooks at Untangled Family Roots; and Craig Manson of GeneaBlogie. It’s also interesting to read the many comments posted by the readers of Dick Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter and Dick, himself, to his two posts, “The Generations Network Receives Patent for Correlating Genealogy Records” and “Internet Biographical Collection is Free at Ancestry.com”. There are also many comments at Ancestry’s blog, 24-7 Family History Circle on the post, “Internet Biographical Information is Free at Ancestry.”

In addition, I found more on this topic at these posts: Jessica Oswalt at Jessica’s Genejournal, Leland Meitzler of Genealogy Blog, and Pat Richley of DearMYRTLE: Your Friend in Genealogy. Ol’ Myrt brings up a valid point about the “Numbers Game,” that is definitely worth reading.

UPDATE #4 (Resolution…for the time being): (Wednesday, 29 Aug 2007) Ancestry.com has removed its Internet Biographical Collection, for now. See their 24-7 Family History Circle blog here (don’t forget to read the comments).

The following genea-bloggers had their response as well. I encourage you to read them, because some of these contain interesting facts and intriguing analogies:

UPDATE #5 (More genea-bloggers weigh in): (Thursday, 30 Aug 2007) I found a few more responses to the IBD furor/removal this morning:

And you really should go over and read Tim Agazio’s non-commentary on the situation, “So, What’s New in the Genealogy World?” It’s quite amusing.

Thank you to whomever informed me that I had a bad link to Becky Wiseman’s kinexxions blog in yesterday’s Update #4. Sheesh…she’s gotten the brunt of my poor memory (I listed her as Becky Phend earlier this week) and spelling mistakes (thus the bad link) these last few days.

UPDATE #6: (Thursday, 30 Aug 2007) I forgot to add another response to the IBD issue this morning. Actually, there are two by GeneaBlogie author, Craig Manson, here and here. I read with interest that Craig, a law and public policy professor, has been having conversations about this matter with his colleagues, and will be posting a series on his blog about the legal issues involved. Stay tuned!