Yes, it is true. Ancestry.com has hijacked Cow Hampshire, plus many other genealogy sites that they deemed to be of value to them.
[[**In all fairness to Ancestry.com there is a follow-up post to this one you may want to read. and also this second follow-up post., and my FINAL post with links to a legal analysis of this controversy].
Despite the very clear copyright notice indicating that my blog MAY NOT be used for “commercial purposes,” Ancestry.com has decided to include the CACHE (older internet copies of my articles) of my blog in their searchable “Internet Biographical Collection,” ONLY available to Deluxe Collection (i.e. paid) subscribers.
You may be thinking, well there are several companies that cache or have copies of internet and blog articles. Correct you are. However they do NOT charge anyone to see them. If you think about it, the electronic CACHE of a web page or a blog page is a COPY of someone’s proprietary information. If someone printed out web or blog pages, and then charged people to see them, that would be COMMERCIAL USE. There is NO DIFFERENCE between charging people to view an electronic cache copy, or a paper version. BOTH clearly violate the COPYRIGHT NOTICE that has been posted on my blog from the first day it was created. (And this copyright notice is also clearly shown on the cached copies they are using in their “database.”)
As much as Ancestry.com charges ME to use their service, they have never asked for my permission to use my electronic documents in their “collection.”
This is how ANCESTRY.COM advertises the subscription-based service:
Source Information: “Ancestry.com. Internet Biographical Collection [database on-line].
Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2007. Original data: Biographical info taken from various English web sites. [[NOTE THIS SENTENCE]] See specific website address provided with each entry.
About Internet Biographical Collection This database contains a sampling of biographical sketches found on English language web pages throughout the entire World Wide Web. Web pages can vary greatly in the amount of information they contain about a given person, and in the number of related and unrelated people mentioned on the same page. The information source and the central topic of each page will also vary greatly.
For more information about this database, click here. [link provided in
This database contains a sampling of biographical sketches found on English language web pages throughout the entire World Wide Web. Web pages can vary greatly in the amount of information they contain about a given person, and in the number of related and unrelated people mentioned on the same page. The information source and the central topic of each page will also vary greatly. Given facts should be verified using other sources. One unique and valuable feature of this web-based collection is the number of hyperlinks leading from each page in the collection to other web pages of possible interest on related topics.”
The problem with the above is:
1) they state that an “address” (technically an address is a URL, not just the name of the site) is provided for the internet source. This is a lie. Oh wait, in about four hours of review, I did see ONE source provided for a newspaper listing, probably because they were afraid that the newspaper had enough clout to sue their butt off if they didn’t include the reference. They did NOT extend the same courtesy to me.
2) When you click on the listing in the database, you go to the cached version of a web site or blog page, and an Ancestry header bar is at the top of the page. There is an option to “View Web Site” which will take them to my actual blog, but there is also a button to SAVE my cached blog article to the Ancestry subscriber’s “shoebox.” In other words every time a customer clicks on “save,” they have just sold an electronic copy of one of MY blog articles to one of their customers, for their use.
When I first realized what had happened, I was flattered. I thought wow, more people will become aware of my blog, which is what I want. (This was my thought process at 1 AM when I was tired and getting ready for bed). After sleeping on the idea, I was horrified at what they had done.
Perhaps Ancestry.com is such a huge company, they feel they can step on the little guy (or gal in my case). If they felt my articles were of value, surely they could have written to me and asked me if my articles could be included in their “database.” Possibly they would have even considered paying me some small stipend (like the annual subscription I pay them for the use of their service) as added value to their customers.
They did neither. Instead they simply hijacked my articles, and thousands of hours of difficult research work, which I have posted here WITH THE EXPRESS INTENT OF IT BEING AVAILABLE FREE OF CHARGE. Earth to Ancestry…. if I had wanted to CHARGE viewers, I would have done that myself.
As of today, I am removing all references to Ancestry.com from my multiple web sites and blogs. I hope that if you are an Ancestry affiliate, you will resign from their program in protest, realizing how destructive it is for a large corporation to tread on the property rights of the people who spend thousands of hours of their own time to provide it to you for FREE. Your genealogy blog or web site cache may ALREADY be included in their “database,” and if not, unless stopped, Ancestry may do this any time they choose. You, and your web site or blog may be next.
[Editor’s note: at the time of this issue, I urged readers to write to Ancestry.com. Since the matter appears to be settled I have removed their contact info and link].
NOTE: The above article is my OPINION.
ADDENDUM: The genealogy blogs that I have found so far in Ancestry’s database cache (besides my own) include: Begat Chat, The Wide Awake Cafe, Steve’s Genealogy Blog, GeneaBlogie, OakvilleBlackWalnut, Backtrack, Shaking The Tree, Our Family History, Your Brothers Kings, and The Oracle of OMcHodoy. I’m sure there are others. (kinexxions, )
-Cache 22: Has Ancestry.com Gone Too Far?–
-Genea-Musings:Ancestry.com is caching some web site data–
-Genealogue:Caching for Cash–
-AnceStories: Ancestry.com Copyright Violations–
-Creative Gene: Ancestry.com Stabs Friends in the Back–
-Steve’s Genealogy Blog: Thoughts on Ancestry’s Internet Biographical Collection–
-Comments about this issue on Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter-
-West in New England: Early Morning Genealogy Scraping–
DearMYRTLE: Numbers, Ranking & Ancestry.com–
-Mississippi History & Genealogy Notes: Ancestry Infuriates Webmasters & Bloggers–
-Ancestrally Challenged: Ancestry Has gone TOO Far–
You may be thinking that this issue has nothing to do with you. You are misinformed. If you are a genealogist who wants to find FREE online information, without having to cough up the hundreds of dollars it takes to subscribe to Ancestry.com an its affiliates, THIS IS YOUR WAKE UP CALL. If you want free information to be available, you need to respond to this reply for help, else your only access to free information is going to disappear.
Also, as I understand it, as of this afternoon, (August 28th) Ancestry.com has added the option to view the database in question to THEIR “free” resource listing. HOWEVER, in order to gain access to this FREE listing you have to register with Ancestry.com. This means you have to provide information to them, that they can use to send you sales promotions and potentially resell (so, in truth, this is marketing information which is very valuable to them, and although you perceive it to be free as promoted, it actually has a dollar value which they could resell, or at least use to their advantage). HINT: Ancestry.com… FREE means exactly that… no log-ins, no registrations, no collecting people’s email addresses… do you need a dictionary to understand the word free?
They also now have added late today a link from the description of the search “context” to both “View Cached Version” and “Live Web Page.” This change is definitely better than what it looked like this morning, however it still bothers me that my blog URL and blog name are not listed in the DESCRIPTION. I am also deeply grieved that Ancestry.com lists the SOURCE of the “database” to be Ancestry.com which IMPLIES that they have copyright authority, WHICH THEY ABSOLUTELY DO NOT.
And as ALWAYS in my posts on this blog, these words and thoughts are my OPINION.
–ABOUT BOTS and AVOIDING THEM–
Several people have written to me about preventing Ancestry.com’s BOT, from accessing and caching your web site or blog for the first time, or again (if they already have).
Susan at “Family Oral History” has some great suggestions…… just make sure the robots.txt file is in the root or highest directory of your web site.