Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Which items on the FamilySearch Memories are searchable by Google?

From time to time, it is important to be reminded of the relationship between the Memories program and the rest of the internet world. At the bottom of the web page shown above, there are the following links.

For most of us, these links fall into the category of the statements made on food containers and the fine print on guarantees. Interestingly, when I first began law school many years ago, I became acutely aware of all of these "fine print" documents. But over the intervening years, I have realized that if I want to buy the product or use the service, I am essentially stuck with whatever is there and so I, like most everyone else, tend to ignore almost all of these boilerplate type agreements.

But from a legal perspective, you have to realize that those statements are there because they are, in many cases, enforceable should a controversy arise. In any event, an argument over the application of these types of provisions can become extremely legalistic and even end up in court. Hmm. Then why do we put up with them? The simple answer is that we could only avoid them by living in a cave, never using any mechanical devices and not talking to anyone. Even then, we would probably be subject to the fine print on the use of the cave.

But every once in a while, it is a good idea to read the fine print, even if it makes you uncomfortable or irate.

Returning the to the bottom of the page, we find "FamilySearch Rights and Use Information (Updated 2/3/2015)" and the "Privacy Policy (Updated 3/18/2014)." So these provisions have been around in their current form and likely, you have used the program quite a few (maybe thousands of times) since the provisions were implemented. So what do they say?

Actually, this page is quite long. In essence, what this long statement says is that when you put anything on the Memories page (or anywhere else on the website) you are giving FamilySearch a license (permission) to use that content in any way they would like to do so. Of course, the wording goes on and on into a lot of other issues, restrictions, and obligations, but from the standpoint of the user (you) FamilySearch can do pretty much what they want with the content once you put it up on the website.

Most of us, perhaps almost all of us, are glad to give FamilySearch that opportunity. We realize that we do not own our ancestors or their historical records and so giving FamilySearch a license to use these old photos and documents is somewhat meaningless. So why is this provision included? For those instances when someone actually owns an interest, such as a copyright, and later decides that they made a mistake by putting it on the website and then decided to claim that FamilySearch was somehow at fault for their own negligence. There are probably quite a few other reasons I could come up with if I were addressing a specific instance where the fine print agreement might apply.

If you care to do so, I would suggest that you read through both the documents linked on the bottom of the pages and by the way realize that all of the items you put on the Memories pages are searchable by Google.

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