USGenWeb - Copyright Policy

USGenWeb's Official Copyright Policy

USGenWeb will not tolerate any copyright violations. Lookup requests should be limited to one name, or perhaps two if it is a married couple.

Information given will be minimal, for example if it is a cemetery lookup, the information will be the name of the cemetery and the dates on the headstone. Please do not ask for "everybody with X surname" or an entire family group, or for hardcopies to be mailed; the volunteers have been asked not to comply with such requests.

Our lookups will extend to searching the book to determine if the book would be helpful to you in your research. Should the book prove useful, we can provide the authors address and ordering information.

The USGenWeb Project will endeavor to get a WRITTEN statement from each copyright holder which stipulates which books may be used for lookups.

This Coordinator's Comments


We have an obligation to respect copyrights. The burden is on the researcher to follow all applicable laws, and so is the burden of proof, it they are challenged.

On the other hand, as one researcher pointed out to me,

"The act of one person "looking-up" information, specifically factual information, in a book and passing that information along to another is not a violation of U.S. Copyright Law. Even photocopying a few pages of a copyright work is largely protected under the concept of "Fair Use," which recognizes "fair" reproduction for "criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research."

Anything published earlier than Jan 1, 1921, is in the public domain. You should take great care with anything published after that. Such care would include limiting the amount of material you take from any original works.

For more guidelines on what is and is not acceptable use of copyrighted material, check out http://www.loc.gov/copyright, and review circulars 1 and 21, among others.

If you want a plain-English version of the above, check out the "fair use" section of The Copyright Website.

In all cases, use common sense. No-one is trying to discourage honest research.

- Tom Raynor

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This page was last updated 4/1/98
©1997, 1998, Tom Raynor