Real Genealogists Don’t Copy and Paste

by Tonia Kendrick on February 22, 2012 in And More

I‘ve had the unfortunate experience recently of discovering that a great deal of content from Tonia’s Roots has been copied and pasted elsewhere, without my permission.  I suppose this is a sign of the times we live in; it is so easy to copy and paste that people don’t think they need to do their own work.

I’ve asked the other party to cease and to remove my copyrighted information from the site where it has been pasted and that makes me feel like a bitch.  Genealogists are a generous bunch and we like to share information.  Part of me wants to just let it go.  But there is a difference between information that is shared and content that is plagiarized.

I’m trying to tell myself that the person in question simply doesn’t know any better – even though I have a terms-of-use page that specifically prohibits posting my work on large commercial sites.  So, I’ve reworked my terms of use and plan to add a more prominent copyright notice to each page of this site, including a sample citation.  This won’t stop the people who really want to steal my content, but it may help to educate those who just don’t know better.

Genealogy is fun.  It’s more fun when you do the work yourself, rather than just grabbing names and copying whatever you find.  So, if you are newbie who is still collecting names, get out there and do some original research.  If you don’t know how, there are a lot of webinars these days to teach you how to do just about anything genealogy-related.

Don’t be a copy-and-paster.  Be a real genealogist.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa February 22, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Hear hear!
Lisa´s last blog post ..Wordless Wednesday


Gini Webb February 22, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Very well said . . . it’s so sad that others have to do this. Our family history is supposed to be fun and we are so very passionate about our ancestors and research and most of us work very hard at it . . . why that can’t be respected is beyond me. Excellent post, Tonia, just sorry you had to go thru this . . . we learn all kinds of stuff doing genealogy don’t we!


Jennifer Trahan February 22, 2012 at 4:29 pm

I think what bothers me the most about them is that they typically don’t even bother to contact me about us researching the same family. I don’t care so much that they take my stuff, but they take my stuff and don’t even contact me to say “Hi.” I saw that someone did the same with my blog posts on an tree.
Jennifer Trahan´s last blog post ..A More Sensible Response to the SSDI Access Issues


Joann February 22, 2012 at 11:50 pm

Agree…Excellent post! I’m glad you wrote about this specific topic. I’m sorry to hear that you have been a victim of this type of behavior. We put our heart, soul and time into researching family to have people just grab all our info…it’s shameful. I had a similar issue on Ancestry. Only thing we ask is for people to communicate..To this day, I haven’t heard from the other people.


JJT February 23, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Problem: I want to steal your “Want to Use My Work?” copyright info page now. Good work on that!
JJT´s last blog post ..Refetter Yer Data


Tonia Kendrick February 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm

You are welcome to it! : )


Mike February 23, 2012 at 1:17 pm

I am sorry to hear these types of stories. They are way to common. I send copies of my genealogy to family members all the time and at the bottom of every page is a Copyright (c) statement. You see, Mom did her work 30 years ago and shared it with a family friend, who published a book with the info, and didn’t even say Thank You. Some people’s kids!


Tonia Kendrick February 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm

It’s amazing how common it is. Sorry to hear about your mom’s incident.


Ed Hamilton March 13, 2012 at 9:24 am

A couple things that I have read that you can do:
Include links to other pages on your website in each article (which you did), and link the copyright line back to your home page, contact page, etc.

Also: There was a lot of talk about this sort of thing a year or two ago. If you google “scraper sites” + genealogy or something similar you should find some more preventive measures. I think Tom McEntee (spelling?) from geneabloggers took some action and wrote about it.

Also: when you know what site is stealing your material, report it to the search engines. They don’t like scraper sites either, because they are usually contrived just to get hits; but the search engines are big enough to do something about it, unlike average bloggers.


Tonia Kendrick March 13, 2012 at 9:38 am

Hi Ed, thanks for commenting. I remember when all the brouhaha about scraper sites was taking place last year and I’ve used Thomas’ resources in the past to combat that type of situation.

This is a little different. There is an individual copying and pasting my content into some of the big commercial genealogical sites, as if it were her own. Some of it is behind a subscription wall, so Google can’t really do anything about that.

I’ve contacted the person in question and she is removing things item by item, but I have to tell her each piece of content that is mine. She does this habitually, so she doesn’t know where the content comes from.


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