[APG Public List] Obituaries and copyright

Leslie Drewitz ldrewitz at mybpl.org
Tue Nov 3 09:14:06 MST 2009

Good morning to all.  I have a question that I think I know the answer to,
but I'm not 100% sure of.  My department head asked a question about the
obituaries that we transcribe and put on our web site in index form (that
in some cases is searchable).

Most of the obituaries were donated (in typed transcription) from a patron
who had gathered them over the years (all family names and extended
family).  There were literally over 1000 of these.  Since then, we have
gathered our own obit collection (town residents) from local and regional
newspapers and transcribed them as well.  We have obituary binders where
we store a photocopy of the original obit and then it is transcribed into
the computer database and then (in some instances) linked online through
an index.

My Department head asks this question: "Are we infringing on any
copyrights here?"  

My opinion is that these "death notices" are public domain and are not
even written by the newspapers that carry them (my daughter is a funeral
director and advises that every funeral home has a preferred "plug in"
obituary form that they use to compose death notices).

So, I thought that I would consult the list and ask you to chime in with
your experience on this. Are we in any type of violation here?

Thank you,

Leslie Drewitz C.G.L./PLCGS
Local History/Genealogy
Bloomingdale Public Library
101 Fairfield Way
Bloomingdale, Illinois 60108
(630) 924-2765
LDrewitz at mybpl.org

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