I believe that genealogy research has exploded on the Internet in the past few years due to the free, unhindered exchange of information between individuals. I also believe that the blanket copyrighting of entire web pages inhibits that free exchange. At the same time, I realize that others are vehement about protecting what they have authored and they have the right to do so within the limits of the law. ... So here is my position:
1. Facts presented on my pages are considered to be in the public domain in accordance with the Supreme Court Decision in Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Telephone Service Co., 499 U.S. 340 (1991). This decision held, in essence, that while the compilation of factual information available in the public domain, together with added original contributions, may be copyrighted, the underlying facts are not copyrighted and may be used without infringement. To quote from Justice O'Conner's decision: (my emphasis)
"Notwithstanding a valid copyright, a subsequent compiler remains free to use the facts contained in another's publication to aid in preparing a competing work, so long as the competing work does not feature the same selection and arrangement. As one commentator explains it: 'No matter how much original authorship the work displays, the facts and ideas it exposes are free for the taking...The very same facts and ideas may be divorced from the context imposed by the author, and restated or reshuffled by second comers, even if the author was the first to discover the facts or to propose the ideas.' '
"Facts, whether alone or as part of a compilation, are not original and therefore may not be copyrighted. A factual compilation is eligible for copyright if it features an original selection or arrangement of facts, but the copyright is limited to [p*351] the particular selection or arrangement. In no event may copyright extend to the facts themselves."
2. Information on my web pages such as narratives, textual family histories, anecdotes, photographs, etc. may be subject to copyright only to the extent that such materials have been derived directly from other copyrighted sources. Since I have avoided presenting without permission any copyrighted material of others, this should not be a problem. However, should any of this material be incorporated into other works, I am not responsible for its use or accuracy, but would appreciate proper attribution and reference.