Copyright Problems

One of the truly alarming things in life is stumbling across something you’ve written that has been re-published by someone else without attribution.

I run into that all the time because I’ve been doing this so long.

A while back, I had someone contact me through to suggest I add a biography to Katharine (Helvey) Roberson. The text they gave me was word-for-word identical to something I wrote a dozen years ago. Errors and all. I haven’t responded yet. I just can’t figure out how to say it politely.

I’ve been working on scanning my old paper files. The other day I ran across a manuscript history of the Howery family by Shirley Danz. She carefully and considerately cites Virginia Howery throughout the document. Except that it was my research. I sent it to Virginia. Virginia sent it to Shirley. It didn’t have my name on it so Shirley gave the credit to Virginia. Future generations will never know it was mine. It’s discouraging.

But for shear ballsy grabbing, I don’t suppose I could ever beat my husband’s experience. His entire gedcom was downloaded and republished by Steve Graber without even changing the name (Statik). Now, because of the interchange between Geni and MyHeritage, there are hundreds of Mennonite profiles on Geni that cite Steve as the source for the Mennonite obituaries originally extracted by Tim. I’m guessing Steve doesn’t mind taking credit for the body of work he didn’t actually do.

On one hand, I would like to see that my lifetime of work survives me and that future genealogists are able to build on it. But on the other hand, I would like to get credit for the work I’ve done, and perhaps also not get blamed for the mistakes of others.

Update May 13, 2020: As requested, I added that biography of Katharine Roberson to her Findagrave entry a few days ago. Slightly edited.

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