Thursday, April 26, 2012

Terms of Service: Official Response from

In response to my previous blog post questioning the change in's Terms of Service I have received this official communication:

In a recent update, the Terms and Conditions excluded “or professional” as part of the terms of service. This change was in no way intended to exclude professional genealogists from using in a business or professional setting. Our legal team has reviewed the statement and has reinstated the original text to include “or professional” into’s Terms and Conditions. We apologize for any misunderstanding. The statement is now updated and reads as follows:

“You may access the Website, use the graphics, information, data, editorial and other Content only for personal or professional family history research, and download Content only as search results relevant to that research.”     

This was received from Mathew Deighton, Public Relations Specialist, A big thank you to for clarifying this issue quickly and restoring the language to include professionals. Restricts Access to Website

Last night Judy G. Russell, author of the Legal Genealogist blog, presented "Facts, Photos and Fair Use: Copyright Law for Genealogists" for the APG Webinar Series." If you didn't see it you missed a superb presentation.

One of the items she discussed that really caught my attention wasn't about copyright at all. It was about licensing and terms of service. That's what you enter into when you use sites like, and When you subscribe to these sites the vendor will share access of their product or service if you agree to abide by their licensing and terms of service.

Last night Judy mentioned that recently changed their terms of service at the end of March 2012.  The specific part that she mentioned related to the topic of Limited Use License. The recent changes now restrict use of the website and images to personal use only:

"You may access the Website, use the graphics, information, data, editorial and other Content only for personal family history research."


Where does that leave professional genealogists and bloggers?

Does this mean  that professionals are not allowed to access the website for professional research for either clients, background research for books, preparation of presentations or research for articles?

Does this mean that bloggers can no longer share information they find on unless it relates specifically to their personal family?

I would love to hear from in plain English specifically where they stand on Professional Genealogists (who are not employed by or their subsidiaries) and bloggers.

I would like other bloggers and professionals to take up this issue on their blogs. And I would like a direct, public response from  We deserve explicit clarification on this topic without having to resort to unspoken acceptable sneaking around use of the website.

Perhaps I've misunderstood what Judy was saying last night. And perhaps I've misunderstood what wrote in their terms and services which is quoted above. If that's the case, then I look forward to further correction and clarification.

[Postscript: See comment #3 below for the Terms of Service language before the change was made and how it specifically included professionals.]

*** [Postscript: Please read the official response to this blog post from] ***

There is No Perfect Scanner

the portable Canon LiDE 210
the portable Canon LiDE 210
Yesterday I had a bit of a discussion about scanners on my Facebook wall. I had used a new scanner and I was very pleased with it. Based on the comments I was left with the impression that people are hungry to find just the right scanner.

It make sense. Most people can only buy one scanner and they want to make sure that the one they pick is the best one. Most people only need one scanner. The only time I can think that you might need more than one scanner is if you scan things of varying size and type regularly for your work or if you are embarking on a long term project where a specialized type of scanner would be a help.

There is no perfect scanner and honestly there shouldn't be. Products that try to be everything to everyone usually end up failing. The best thing to do is to determine what you need to scan the majority of the time. You will have to accept some inconvenience but as long as you can accomplish your scanning task then that is the most important part.

So if you can only buy one scanner how do you choose?

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

What do I want to scan? (photos, slides, negatives, documents, photo albums, etc)

How do I want to use the scans? (printed photos, online for web and blogs, reviewing documents for research, incorporating documents or images into reports, sharing with family or clients, etc.)

Where do I need to scan? (at home, at someone else's home, in my office, in a repository or court house, in my car, at an exhibition hall of a conference, etc.)

What size object will I be scanning? (4x6 photos, letter-size documents, legal or 14x17 size documents, various size objects, big courthouse books, etc)

How often will I realistically scan? (every day, once a week, once a month, occasionally)

What is the ONE most important criteria I need from a scanner? (convenience of scanning location, light-weight, high quality, versatility, etc)

How much can I afford?

Over the coming week I plan to tackle all these issues and all the individual scanners (at least the ones I am familiar with).

Let me know some of your needs and concerns and I'll try to address them in my posts.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Family Memoirs: A Lifetime of Addresses

Every once in awhile I send an email to my uncles and my Dad with a single question in it. The questions trigger them to record something about their lives. For instance, one question was "What was your first car?" Then I ask them to email me back with the answer. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. I don't worry about it too much (though I would like to get answers back from all of them) because my goal is to get them thinking, remembering and realizing that they should write down and save this information.

A year or two ago I asked them to send me a list of all the addresses they had ever lived at. My Uncle Bob replied with his full list but the others didn't. My Dad still keeps promising me his some day.

The other day I was giving a house history talk at the Windsor, Connecticut Historical Society. After the talk a gentleman came up to me and introduced himself as the president of the Simsbury, Connecticut Historical Society. We got to talking because I'll be giving a talk in Simsbury in a few months.

I happened to mention that I had grown up in Connecticut and lived in Simsbury when I was a child. Of course, the natural next question was which street did I live on.

Do you know what? I couldn't tell him! I couldn't remember. I drew a total blank. I lived in Simsbury only for 5 years from age 5 to 9 so it's not unusual that I might forget. But that was the first time I had forgotten something about my own life.

That was a real eye opener. While it is important to focus on the previous generation (such as my Dad and uncles) it's also important to focus on our own lives.

I think genealogists are particularly prone to neglecting themselves in their quest for previous generations.

Can you remember all the addresses where you have lived? Have you written them down? Take a moment to do it if you haven't done it yet.  Better yet, create a directory on your computer called "My Life" or something similar and start recording many of your memories. Do a little bit each week.

What a shame it would be to lose your own memories! Save them and pass them on!