Q: Someone just copied my online family tree and is calling it her own — and she’s adding incorrect information. What can I do?
A: Your first step might be to contact the pedigree pilferer, who’s likely a distant cousin, after all. Perhaps if you explain why the added information is incorrect, this person will see the light. You also could ask that the data from your research be properly credited.
Although you could try contacting the website where the copied data is being posted, most family tree websites don’t have the resources (or the interest) to police user data. When it comes to online pedigree files, it’s still pretty much the Wild West.
Legally, you don’t have much recourse unless the pilferer has copied not just family data, but also your original commentary and writings about your research. As the Yellow Pages folks found out some years ago, you can’t copyright facts; that’s why we now “enjoy” such a profusion of phone listings.
It may be that the best you can do is keep posting your own genealogy findings, along with notes and documentation about why the added data elsewhere is incorrect. Over time, the truth will win out.
From the November 2011 issue of Family Tree Magazine
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