[APG Public List] Copyright and obits

Stephen Danko stephen at stephendanko.com
Wed Nov 4 12:48:15 MST 2009

Thanks, Traci, for the link to this great resource on copyrights!

After browsing through the document, though, I wonder if linking
transcriptions of obituaries to an on-line index might be a violation
of copyright. Many newspapers sell access to transcriptions of
the obituaries they publish. Free on-line access to transcriptions
of those obituaries would seems to violate the fourth factor to
determine if the intended use is fair:

"The effect of the use on the intended market for or value of the
copyrighted work."

Peter B. Hirtle, Emily Hudson, and Andrew T. Kenyon. Copyright
and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for Digitization for U.S. Libraries,
Archives, and Museums. (Ithaca: Cornell University Library, 2009), 92. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1495365

Were transcriptions of obituaries made available for free on the
Internet, the market for and value of the obituary transcriptions sold
by the newspaper might be damaged.

My approach in this case would be to contact the newspapers that
originally published the obituaries and ask permission to transcribe
the obituaries and make them available through an on-line index.

Best Regards,
Stephen J. Danko, PLCGS

----- Original Message ----
From: Traci Thompson TThompson at Braswell-Library.org

I think your obits would be covered on many levels by "fair use".

From: "Leslie Drewitz" <ldrewitz at mybpl.org>

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?"  

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