Saving pictures from Trees

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Jane Thompson AKA Gordon

Name: Jane Thompson AKA Gordon
Arrested for: Thief
Arrested at: North Shields Police Station
Arrested on: 13th July 1904 Tyne and Wear Archives
ref: DX1388-1-35-Jane Thompson AKA Gordon
These images are a selection from an album of photographs of prisoners brought before the North Shields Police Court between 1902 and 1916 in the collection of Tyne & Wear Archives (TWA ref DX1388/1).  Image available on Flickr.

I thought it appropriate to start this post off with a vintage mug shot from 1904.  This poor lady, I have no idea if she was actually found guilty.   So if any of her descendants come across this picture, my apologies.

A distant cousin of mine recently confided in me that it had been brought to her attention that her pictures were being saved from her tree on to a certain person’s (thief) personal computer and then uploaded to that certain person’s (thief) tree as though the picture had generated from them(thief) in the first place.  She went to this certain person’s (thief) tree and counted no less that 96 of her pictures being done this way.

She (my cousin) wanted my opinion on how she should handle the situation and what I felt was the appropriate way to save photos.  It’s my opinion, if someone (my cousin) was kind enough to upload the picture in the first place to share, then the certain person (thief) that saved the picture to their computer, should have appropriately attached the original picture from her (cousin) tree to theirs (thief), and then saved it.  Leaving the link to the original picture.

I wonder if this certain person (thief) realizes that when you save a picture from someone’s tree – it tells them (my cousin).  Then when the certain person (thief) uploads the pictures to their tree, it sends the person that originally had the picture (my cousin) a shaky leaf, indicating a new picture has been found!  Really??  New?? Not so much…..

She emailed the certain person (thief), and got no response.  So she contacted Ancestry, and this was there response.

Thank you for your response. We appreciate your feedback and are committed to providing excellent customer service.
The following excerpt from our Community Guidelines within our Terms and Conditions is in reference to the agreement between the submitter of content and
Important Note: Any information you post in our community is public and can be copied, modified and distributed by others. By submitting or posting content in our community, you expressly grant Operations Inc. the rights set forth in the terms and conditions.”
We sincerely regret your frustration in this matter. Unfortunately, we have reviewed your request and have determined that this member has not violated our Terms and Conditions.  We will not intervene in this case. 

Shortly after this, the certain person (no longer a thief) did delete the pictures from their tree.

People, even though that is the policy of Ancestry, please be considerate of the source of the photos you are saving.  It’s ok to save them.  Just make sure if you are going to add them to your tree, give credit where credit is due.  You may be causing them to lose contact with another potential cousin.  Why not leave it on their tree, attach it to your tree, and then you both can have contact with the potential cousin.

Am I the only one that feels this way??  Please give me feedback on this, I would really like to hear some opinions on the matter.

In the meantime, after I get some health issues taken care of for my parents, I’m going to go back through my tree and make sure I have properly credited all my pictures to the person I scanned them from.  It’s possible as a newbie, I wasn’t so good at that.  I do know however, exactly who gave me what photo.  I kept very good records of that.  So many of the pictures I have, cousins let me scan and some are pictures I took, of pictures hanging on people’s walls, so I will know if those came from me, because no else has had access to those.  I’m curious to know if this has happened to any of my pictures.

Which brings another thought to mind, does anyone know how to properly Cite a scanned copy of a photo in Family Tree Maker??

Oh, and Jane Thompson aka Gordon, I am truly sorry to drag you into this matter.  I just thought it would be a really cool way to show people your awesome mug shot from over a hundred years ago, and I hope you weren’t found guilty and thrown in prison, and please note, I properly credited your picture.  Thank you, thank  you very much.


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6 comments on “Saving pictures from Trees

  1. Sorry, but I am not sympathetic to the assertion of possession and ownership. These historic photographs, after all, come from where? Your cousin who demands credit and calls others thieves – was she the photographer? Can she legally document copyright ownership? Does she credit her source or document the full chain of custody of the print through every hand it has passed over the prior century? Does she know who the original photographer was, and the date the photograph was made? Has she consulted a copyright attorney to ascertain her rights to the image, according to the copyright laws in place at the time the image was made, and pursued an investigation of whether rights renewal were managed properly over the subsequent years and decades?

    Of course, this is absurd. But it does point out the onerous burden placed on family historians by strict adherence to the law. If the law were interpreted narrowly, use of photographs is licensed much like software, and efforts to preserve photographs by scanning and digitization are infringements of the copyright holder.

    All this is nonsense. It reduces family historians to documenting the genealogy of photographs instead of documenting the lives of people.

    This entire discussion is beside the point. What we are really talking about here is not legal authorized use of photography, which effectively holds water only on original works (you being the photographer) or photographs which can be demonstrated through full documentation to have lapsed into the public domain – in which case your cousin would have no claim. What we are actually talking about here is pride (of the bad sort), possessiveness, and an ungenerous spirit.

    Perhaps you can parse this issue into a technical issue about photo linking on Ancestry, or an error in downloading and then re-uploading photos. But at best this is a training issue — and as an IT professional, I’d like to see you tackle that issue. And explain to me why does it matter to the pure of heart seeking to preserve the memory of the departed?

    Worst case scenario: you’ve tagged someone for sloppy research, inadequate documentation of sources. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

    I wrote the following on my Find A Grave Contributor profile:

    With volunteer efforts like Find A Grave, all contributions are appreciated.

    At the same time, I have noticed an increasing number of persons expressing displeasure that others would find their contributions valuable in their own family research. Specifically, there seems to be bad blood that photographs posted to Find A Grave would be used elsewhere.

    Those of us who do this work know how time consuming it is. I see your statistics and you see mine, but what we cannot see is the hours and days and months spent walking cemeteries and toiling at the computer preparing images, and time spent uploading to Find A Grave.

    What concerns me is recently encountering assertions of copyright and encumbrances placed on images. My opinion is, if your generous efforts are truly to honor the deceased and to preserve their memory, then set your images free. Please do not place a tremendous burden upon others who are seeking out their departed to manage usage rights on individual images. This is an impossible hurdle, and a demand that can only lead to hurt feelings.

    One contributor noted on their profile that they had pulled all old family photographs from Find A Grave after discovering some had been reposted to Ancestry. Stated reason: “These images are personal to me.” Please consider that they are likely personal – and treasured – by other descendants as well.

    I am a professional photographer, and images are my livelihood. Even so, the images posted here and elsewhere on genealogical sites, I give absolutely freely for any use whatsoever. So what if I find my images on or FamilySearch? I consider it an honor that these images are valued by descendants and family members of the deceased, and I realize that the proliferation of these images across multiple websites insures that the records we seek to preserve are most likly to be successful, in that there is redundancy in case of website closures or technical problems that may potentially cause data loss at any given website.

    I’m not against credit where credit is due. The solution to this is embedding your creator information into the image metadata before uploading any images to the Internet. You can learn about metadata on Wikipedia, but the process is simple and can be automated.

    Final point, these passages from the King James Bible for your consideration:

    Matthew 10:8 – Freely ye have received, freely give.

    2 Corinthians 9:7 – Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

    What more can I say? Thank you for your volunteer contributions to Find A Grave. Your generosity of time and effort is apparent; please complete the course and be generous in spirit also.

    • Hi Danny, thank you for taking the time to read my website and leave a comment. I appreciate all comments, and scriptures thrown my way.

      It’s been so long since I wrote that post, I had to go back and read it again. I guess what I failed to state clearly in the post above is that the reason I would like the picture to stay with the person that went to all the trouble to scan it and post it is completely for cousin connections.

      When I post a picture, I also post the following citation. “Digital Image, 2011 by Susie Reynolds. Original held by Kookie Hemperley, of Shreveport, Louisiana.” (Sorry Kookie, this is just an example, not trying to bring you into this) This way, when that image is re-posted to other trees, it can be known who holds the original photograph, not just me who scanned it, because I don’t really care about that. It’s not because Kookie (Sorry, Kookie) wants to assert her possession or ownership, it’s not because she time traveled and took the photo herself, it’s not because she wants to hold the copyright and let no other descendants see a possible shared ancestor in the photograph. If it were, I wouldn’t support that, at all.

      It’s because anyone else that comes across that photo might like to contact the photo holder in order to learn more or maybe connect with family. If the photo is saved and re-posted without that information, then other people will never know how that picture made it to the internet, and possible cousin connections are now lost, which to me is the biggest tragedy of all. This is why it is so important to make citations, no matter what level of researcher you are. And you are right; this is a training issue and something that needs to be pointed out to beginners immediately. Nothing I read when I first started doing genealogy suggested the appropriate way to post anything to Maybe I missed it, I don’t know.

      I know all about metadata and I put it in my photos when I feel it’s necessary. However, I freely post my pictures and don’t want credit for them. If you read my profile on FindAGrave, you will know this. This continues on with my website, which if you will look at each photo on here, none of them are watermarked or stamped with my website logo. Not a single one.

      I have 1,929 pictures posted to my tree. I have traveled thousands of miles, spent thousands of dollars, and thousands of minutes of my life meeting with cousins and scanning photos. Cropping photos out of scans and posting them so that they can be shared with cousins that can’t travel or go to the expense that I have. I have not asked for credit for any of this, nor have I asked for people to reimburse me. I merely share it here on my website and in my tree. When a cousin contacts me, I gladly send them a copy of everything I have. I have even sent original photos to people if they are related closer to the person than I am.
      When someone contacts me and wants help looking something up, I do it at my own expense with a glad heart.

      I have freely received, and I freely give (Matthew 10:8 and 2 Corinthians 9:7).

      That is what the “Spirit” of this website is all about.

      I feel as if you attacked my character and tried to back it up with scripture so I would like to share one with you as well, Luke 6:39- Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

      You don’t know me, sir. At all. However, I forgive because I feel you misjudged me, friend. I hope I have cleared it up for you and that you see everything I do here is done with a glad heart and in the spirit of giving.

  2. This is an old thread but I can tell you this… Sometimes there is not button “save to a person in another tree” so I have to download and upload a picture. These were pictures that ny cousin wanted to share but we could not figure out why the button was missing. I this case I was not claim ownership I was just trying to put a face on an ancestor in my tree.

  3. this picture is no ones property i also have this i have a collection of them off a site from the tyne and wear mug shots what is free and online i have had it years and this is one reason i closed my tree as people insult others of stealing pics when ancestry offer them if user has posted it on public tree (no thief after all ) just cant belive anyone wanting to spite others when we can all sshare them some have had 3rd world war over pics accusing them of stealing off them has other decendants not got pics too but even this pic is being passed as someones property when its off mugshots online and i say no its tyne and wear archives property where they come from off our local police stations public property and there is the same thief looking like a thief pmsl do u get my drift we all got pics off others and so on but we share to tree public so hints offer us them MMM ANCESTRY IS THE THIEF AND CAUSE OF EVERYONE LABELED A THIEF shame on u hints haha im gunna nick all pics just too add another nail in coffin and hellon starts all over again jokes but we should all share no matter who owned them some people who have accused stealing actually stole them too tut tut everyone can have mine i stole them all pmsl not really just a few xx

    • Hi Karen, thank you for taking the time to read my website and leave a comment. I do get your drift, Karen. I share my photos to ancestry so others can also have them, and put a face with a name. I have no problem with that. I simply wish people would label where the photo originally came from so if someone wanted to get in touch with the original photo holder, they could. I realize now my use of the word “thief” was a little over done, but hey, it is what is. I wrote this article in 2012, and it’s now 2018. I do still wish people would at least label the photo. You nick all the photos you want, I gave up on this a long time ago so no nails in my coffin here. I just wanted to bring attention to the fact that some things get lost when they are done that way and that’s a fact.

  4. I AGREE WITH YOU! I think that anyone who doesn’t is probably one of those photo thieves themselves. I spend a lot of time collecting, scanning, cropping, identifying photos. I know the stories because I researched the information. For someone to come in and steal the photos I worked so hard on is infuriating and makes me wish I’d kept my tree private. It’s not about being the only one that has them, but the fact that I did the work and the image is linked to someone else’s tree makes me so mad. People see those stolen images and reach out to these “original posters” instead of me, the actual original poster. The problem is that these photo thieves are hindering my future research by usurping messages from other serious researchers.

    A message to all photo thieves on ancestry:
    Link the photos someone else posted to your heart’s content. Save someone else’s photos to your computer so you can share them with your families. But never, I repeat, NEVER reupload someone else’s images without their permission. That sh!t is heinous.

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