Sunday, July 01, 2007

English parish records

Are they covered by photocopy restrictions?
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DearMYRTLE, I've been following your blogs about the digitizing & indexing project at the website. In a recent blog you listed the names of several databases available for viewing. One was for the Durham Bishops' Transcripts ca. 1700-1900. Microfilms of Church of England parish records typically contain prominent displays that these records cannot be copied. Has there been a change to the agreement which now allows these works to be copied freely? If so, does this also extend to the microfilms on loan to the Family History Centers?

Thank-you for writing. I am only peripherally aware of restrictions to the use of microfilm through local LDS Family History Centers, in that occasionally a patron will come across an item in the FHLC (Family History Library Catalog) where there is a notation “does not circulate to Family History Centers”. In that case, the microfilm can only be viewed in Salt Lake City, Utah at the Family History Library (FHL). I have seen this with a small number of microfilms from Canada and Ireland.

When it came to researching Church of England parish records, I ordered microfilm (perhaps 25-30 by now) but have not seen any notice of restriction about photocopying the entries I’ve found for my ancestors. They were not mounted on "red reels" which means they are not to be photocopied. My experience is obviously limited, and may be quite different from your experience.

Twice I have not been able to copy other microfilm when researching at the FHL, and was told that the reason is "right to privacy". Though I cannot recall now what the records were about, I know they were not Church of England microfilms because I was not on the British Isles research floor. However, a worker in the copy center was able to block out the other entries on a page, and make a copy for me, so that I could have the record about my ancestor.

It is my understanding that the LDS Church, the Family History Library and its 4,000+ Family History Centers (FHC) wish to abide by all copyright laws. Every copy center at the FHL has a sign posted to reflect respect of copyright laws. For instance, it would be inappropriate for someone to photocopy an entire book protected by copyright. I remember when working at our local FHC in Bradenton, Florida, we received a copy of that same copyright notice, and were instructed to post it on the photocopy machines, and ask patrons to abide by the guidelines.

With regard to the contract agreements between the various dioceses of the Church of England and the Family History Library, I am not privy to the details and would suggest addressing that concern with either party. I would think that FamilySearch’s decision to scan images from a specific microfilm and present them on the web is not made lightly. I also believe the Family History Library would not knowingly do anything to tarnish its image as a strong force for the preservation of original documents among archivists, librarians, genealogists and historians throughout the world.

As I am not a spokesperson for the LDS Church or the Family History Library, please be sure to distinguish these comments as my personal experience and opinion.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

(c) 2007 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.

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