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Carmack's Guide to Copyright and Contracts: A Primer for Genealogists, Writers and Researchers by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack: (PDF Edition)


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Genealogy is one of the most popular hobbies on the Internet. Genealogists love to share information about their families, and the very nature of the Internet fosters this practice. Probably because there is so much free information on the Web, many individuals have formed the false conclusion that "if it is on the Internet, anyone has a right to use the information as he/she sees fit." Despite the best of intentions, therefore, people will occasionally post content on a website or transmit it by e-mail without proper permission to do so.

The issue of copyright is an aspect of genealogical research that may never have crossed your mind. As copyright lawyer Karen Kreider Gaunt puts it, "Numerous misconceptions surround even basic issues, such as work for hire, fair use, public domain, and publication. An author or genealogist operating under one of these misconceptions could find herself faced with serious misunderstandings, loss of business and clients, harm to reputation and goodwill, and, at worst, litigation in federal court."

Ms. Gaunt's observations raise such fundamental questions as, "What is and what is not protected by copyright? What is in the public domain? Can I use information I find on the Internet? What constitutes fair use? When do I need to ask permission to use someone else's information, even if I quote it? And so on.

Fortunately, you can find the answers to these and similar questions in this book aimed primarily at genealogists and written in layman's terms. WithCarmack's Guide to Copyright and Contractsin hand, you will be able to determine:

  • What are your rights to your own genealogical discoveries?
  • What can/should you do if someone has infringed on your copyright?
  • When do you need to ask someone's permission to reprint their work?
  • What are works in the public domain and how to find them?
  • Can someone tape your lecture without your permission?

In scarcely 100 pages,Carmack's Guide to Copyright and Contractsinforms its readers about all aspects of copyright law. Each chapter in the book lays out a specific principle of copyright or contracts and then addresses the topic with situations specifically applicable to genealogists. Subjects covered in this fashion include: (1) Copyright Basics, (2) Fair Use, the Public Domain, and Seeking Permissions, (3) Illustrations, Images, Photographs, and Maps, (4) Works for Hire, (5) Collaboration Agreements, (6) Journals/Magazine Contracts, (7) Book contracts, (8) Electronic Contracts, and (9) Self-Publication Contracts. The author also provides an extremely useful glossary of terms found in contracts and matters of copyright. Rounding out the volume are an up-to-date bibliography; a resource directory of websites, links, and online articles; and an index to the book's contents.

119 pages | Published 2005, reprinted 2007 | PDF Edition

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