On August 4th, I woke up to a blog like many of you did from Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist. She had taken the time to read the new Terms and Conditions posted as a banner at the top of the Ancestry website.
What Judy told us was that Ancestry had changed some wording that we all needed to be aware of, and that was; (below is an exact excerpt from what was written, but you can find the full post HERE.)
Before the new terms, the applicable section read:
… by submitting User Provided Content through any of the Services, you grant Ancestry a sublicensable, worldwide, royalty-free license to host, store, copy, publish, distribute, provide access to, create derivative works of, and otherwise use such User Provided Content to the extent and in the form or context we deem appropriate on or through any media or medium and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed or discovered. This includes the right for Ancestry to copy, display, and index your User Provided Content. Ancestry will own the indexes it creates. We will also have the right to continue to use your User Provided Content, even if you stop using the Services, but only as necessary for us to provide and improve the Services.3
As of now, it reads (emphasis added):
… by submitting User Provided Content through any of the Services, you grant Ancestry a perpetual, sublicensable, worldwide, non-revocable, royalty-free license to host, store, copy, publish, distribute, provide access to, create derivative works of, and otherwise use such User Provided Content to the extent and in the form or context we deem appropriate on or through any media or medium and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed or discovered. This includes the right for Ancestry to copy, display, and index your User Provided Content. Ancestry will own the indexes it creates.4
She went on to say;
In plain English, the rights to use that family photo you posted, that story you wrote and uploaded, that snippet of family history you’ve shared basically now belong to Ancestry. You can continue to use it elsewhere if you wish since you’re still technically the owner, but you can’t do anything to stop Ancestry from using it anyway it wants, forever.
Like many of you when I first read the terminology, I was concerned about the language that said I no longer owned my photos… but later that day, I thought … wait a minute, I’ve always had a public tree and wanted to share, and I’ve always known that anything I put on the internet is out there. It would be like trying to close the barn door after the cow has escaped. I felt the same way when I put my DNA on GEDMatch I knew going in that once it was there, it could be accessed by people other than my matches. But I did it anyway.
I told a friend about the situation at Ancestry, and I said I bet the new company was thinking they should tighten up the language on their T&C, and they never imagined the storm they were about to create. Create a storm they did.
I saw people posting they were going to take down all their photos, trees and leave Ancestry. I’m sure that Ancestry’s phone lines were “lit up” with people telling them what they thought of the situation.
Thankfully today, August 6th, Ancestry has revised their terminology and clarified a bit more about what they meant. (Want to read the latest T&C? You can HERE, although dated August 3rd, there is a change.
That your photos and stories are yours, and you can delete them at any time. But know that if you delete a photo or story from the Ancestry site, that does not mean that it’s deleted from anyone else’s tree that it had been added to. Remember…. You put it on the internet. It’s out there.
It’s always been my practice to only upload to Ancestry, MyHeritage, FindmyPast, and any other sites, for that matter, the things that I want to share. If I don’t want it shared, but I want to preserve it away from my computer, I put it on my FOREVER account in my genealogy folders. (If you want to check out my YouTube video explaining what I’ve been doing at FOREVER, you’ll find it HERE.)
So what does this mean to us? Well, it means that we all need to read the Terms and Conditions. I know it’s not fun, but you need to know what you agree to. This also teaches us that when a community complains that companies listen…. Most of the time.
The most important thing is if you don’t want to share it with the world, then think before you post on the internet.