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Copyright of images

ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


InspectorGreenPen Report 3 Jun 2013 17:30

It is all rather academic.

As Rollo has suggested no one is going to prosecute a private individual for following their hobby.


RolloTheRed Report 3 Jun 2013 13:49

Crown copyright is not perpetual and is subject to rules.

If somebody has purchased a GRO copy cert then it is their property and they may do anything lawful they like with it. It is lawful to resell it, not lawful to use it fraudulently.

That people may not like perfect strangers to be able to access their marriage lines and resell them is by the by. It is the inevitable result of having an open register of BMD.

I rather doubt that GRO would take up thousands of copyright cases for certs that people have posted on their trees, they would look ridiculous. In any case certs older than 1933 are out of copyright except for the argument that any cert issued is a new publication. This has not been tested in court and would likely not be sustainable.


GenealogyResearchAssistance Report 2 Jun 2013 16:49

Malcolm as I understand the copyright in the instance of documents covered by the crown copyright is that it is ok to add them to your tree but not to copy or for someone else to copy them or sell to a third party without a license from the Chief Registrar's Office or the National Archives. I suppose because it is taking potential income away from the crown. BMD at one point never had Crown Copyright printed on them and this is a relatively new thing but every certificate now produced is covered by it. I'm uncertain about the law as I'd have to read up on Crown Copyright as it relates to copyright law and I'm not going to do so as I already have the bits of paper allowing the Admins on our page to reproduce the images covered by this particular copyright. (A little long winded but hopefully everyone will get the gist)

I personally wouldn't add them to a public tree as I would have no control over who copies them.

EDITED TO ADD: Incidentally if you crop the bit of a certificate which has the information in rather than post the entire document, this is not covered by crown copyright and anyone can do so legitimately.


Malcolm Report 2 Jun 2013 16:12

I would say that it was a breach of copyright to reveal (copy) an image to any third party. However it would be a serious breach if you were to do this for profit. I think that's the point, to stop people from profiting from other people's work or investment. Common sense really.

I have no problem in passing on a copy of something I have paid for as long as I do so free of charge and do not place that copy in the public domain (i.e. on FB).


GenealogyResearchAssistance Report 2 Jun 2013 15:30

KenSe Each Department has been given a link to the facebook page I manage with some friends and checked out what we were doing with the images. Scotland's people where particularly thorough but in the end all were happy with our page. Facebook T & C's do say that they can use anything we post on that page without our consent but I'm guessing if they use one of our images of say a certificate then they are breaching crown copyright and it would be up to the government to pursue this.

Jax. It would be a breach copyright to sell a certificate or image of a census without a license.

I would be livid if it was a certificate detailing my marriage.


jax Report 2 Jun 2013 14:54

I know this is not the same thing but:-

Someone recently purchased a marriage cert and posted a thread saying she wanted to sell it on as it was not who she was looking for

I know that the marriage in question is for someone who is still living, plus has a tree on here.

Would I be very happy if I knew my marriage certs were being passed around to all and sundry??? I would'nt


KenSE Report 2 Jun 2013 14:32

Incidentally I believe that anything you put on Facebook gives them (Facebook) the right to use without reference to you.


KenSE Report 2 Jun 2013 14:21

That's interesting to know TootyFruity. I have considered putting mine on my tree but have never been quite sure that it is allowed, in spite of that document.


GenealogyResearchAssistance Report 2 Jun 2013 12:16

KenSe we posted that on our page and I used that when approaching the relevant authorities and was told that as long as they are for personal use that is fine but putting them on a public site i.e. our facebook page required written permission from the Chief Registrar of England and Wales for BMD's, permission from the National Archive and separate permission for Scotland. Initially, I was turned down and had to go further. It took several months to sort out completely.

I also asked about putting it on a tree on say Ancestry for all the world to see which is fine however anyone copying that certificate breaches copyright apparently.


KenSE Report 2 Jun 2013 11:59


GenealogyResearchAssistance Report 2 Jun 2013 11:56

As Piglet Pals says you can snip the relevant bit which does not infringe the copyright and I doubt that any prosecutions will ever be brought as there are so many images on family trees in the public domain on Ancestry it would cost to much to prosecute everyone.

I too thought it was ok as long as they where not used for fraudulent purposes but when I got confirmation from the Chief Registrars office I needed to get permissions to post the BMD's. When we post images on our page we have to acknowledge those copyright permissions. Also copyright for Scotland is different to England and Wales so separate permissions where required.


Janet Report 2 Jun 2013 11:37

As I understood it its ok as long as you are not using it to prove date of birth /marriage etc

ie if you want to prove to your bank that you are now married and not Miss Smith but now Mrs Brown, they will want the original cert (issued by the GRO) not a photocopy or scan, if you are not using it to do that sort of thing, like family trees etc then it's OK?



GenealogyResearchAssistance Report 2 Jun 2013 11:36

When I looking to it for our page it became apparent that all images are protected via crown copyright. This means that they can be used for personal use only. I know this as I have it in writing from the National Archives at the start of the process of gaining copyright permissions.

Like I say in my opening post, if it is done behind the scenes then nobody is the wiser.

Incidentally, there is another issue of who owns the images download from sites like GR. They are still owned by the Crown and are available on sites under license. Doing so may breach T & C


RolloTheRed Report 2 Jun 2013 11:31

All GRO certs are crown copyright and "may not be reproduced without permission". However there is also the exception for "study and comment" which would cover people sharing certs etc - cert copies and census pages are often put up on Ancestry without any problems.

Where GRO would exercise copyright would be for the use of certs in professional publications.

fwiw even if the information in the cert is (say) a hundred years old the cert copy is in copyright because GRO publishes a new cert copy for each request. Imho originals > 70 years old are out of copyright. SFAIK there is nothing in the Copyright Acts giving the crown perpetual copyright.


DazedConfused Report 2 Jun 2013 11:24

Not too sure about BMD's but I believe it is ok to post the middle bit (the most important part) but you are not allowed to post the whole certificate as the style is copyrighted.

Well were are all stuffed now - I have loads on my Ancestry tree and regularly send copies to relatives.....

As for photos, they will can be copyrighted by the original owner, but that is a lot of faffing about.

:-D :-D :-D

Love the word faffng - OH could faff for the UK in the next Olympics ..... Only man I know who can take forever to get ready to go out, get to the door and then go back in 'cos he has forgotten something gggrrrr.


Gai Report 2 Jun 2013 11:22

Very interesting point, TootyFruity.

Now that you can send images with GR attached to a message there are requests on the boards from time to time by posters asking for images from other sites.

I wonder if that process breaches copyright.


GenealogyResearchAssistance Report 2 Jun 2013 11:15

I was wondering where copyright comes into play on images which are sent via pm.

When some friends and I set up our facebook page we had to apply for copyright permissions so that we could not only post images of BMD's or census or related images on our page but also send copies of images via pm.

Obviously if nobody announces the image has been sent then there isn't an issue as only the person sent it and the person receiving it will know.

I just thought I'd canvass opinion.