How to stay out of “trouble” when posting ancestry, genealogy, historic finds

One of the best ways to attract the attention of the genealogy “police” is to utilize materials that are either copyright protected or belong to private collections. Instead, find the copyright owners and utilize government archives and subscription services — including those that require fees — to remain free and clear in your postings. For instance, my subscription with WordPress entitles me to pull photos from its files.

Photo by Kerde Severin on

Some tips:

  1. Remember to first check the copyright status of any document or visual element when preparing to post the material in the so-called public domain. Social media is considered public domain. Social media is not considered the public domain. It may seem as if I was double-speaking. I am and I am not. Here’s why:

Just because something has been posted to Instagram, Twitter, or other social media platforms does not mean that content is now in the public domain and free for anyone to use. Social media is no different than other forms of online content — the content creator retains the copyrights to any images, text, or video he or she created. When reusing content found on the internet it’s vitally important to make sure you have obtained the right to do so from the content owner.

2. I usually post content and pictures that are derived from my personal files, including photographs taken by me or someone who have given the “rights” for me to do so.

Source: Ancestry, family files.

3. I usually seek photos to reuse that are from public sources such as the National Archives, Georgia Archives, newspapers and other media where the ownership is clearly stated. Please add the citations that are conveniently provided by the public site. For instance, the Digital Library of Georgia via GALILEO, offers five tabs on its site that include “cite.” Click on that tab and you will find the following for the photo that I am posting:

Photograph of the parent teacher association booth at the fair, Manchester, Georgia, 1953
Not Available. “Photograph of the parent teacher association booth at the fair, Manchester, Georgia, 1953.” Pine Mountain Regional Library. 1953,
Not Available (1953). Photograph of the parent teacher association booth at the fair, Manchester, Georgia, 1953. Retrieved from
Not Available. “Photograph of the parent teacher association booth at the fair, Manchester, Georgia, 1953.” 1953. May 4, 2022.

4. Below is the content that accompanies the above photograph. I post it with a sigh of relief that all copyright and/or free use content is acceptable.

Collection:Pine Mountain Regional Library CollectionTitle:Photograph of the parent teacher association booth at the fair, Manchester, Georgia, 1953Date of Original:1953Subject:Parents and teachers assocations–Georgia–Manchester
Coca Cola (Trademark)
Concessions (Amusements, etc.)–Georgia–Manchester
African American children–Georgia–ManchesterLocation:United States, Georgia, Meriwether County, Manchester, 32.85985, -84.61993Medium:photographsType:StillImageFormat:image/jpegDescription:Photograph captioned “The PTA booth doesn’t seem as busy as the Woman’s Club booth at present.” Two girls and a boy stand in front of the parent teacher association booth at the Tri-County Fair in Manchester, Georgia.Metadata URL: Object URL: Collection:Pine Mountain Regional Library, Manchester, GeorgiaHolding Institution:Pine Mountain Regional LibraryRights:


1 locations associated with this record

5. Be careful with the use of music as copyright infringement cases are plentiful in this category. Yet, there are many ways to work around using music in your genealogy spaces with safety and care. My advice:

Keep your ancestry genealogy research fun and worthwhile. The best way is to avoid collisions with those who troll with the intent to make innocent mistakes a big deal.

“Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it, establish your priorities and go to work.” Anonymous

Published by Learning family histories

Our genealogy traces our family from western and central Africa and western Europe. Our ancestors entered the United States at the Virginia and Georgia Ports. First cousins Mark Owen and Ann Lineve Wead (it is protocol to use the maiden names of females in genealogy searches) are responsible for writing this blog. Although Ann has been involved in genealogy research while searching for certain ancestors since the age of 10, the cousins began deeper research of their families during the COVID-19 Pandemic Year of 2020. Devoting as much as 6 hours some evenings to the methodical training and research of genealogy, the cousins completed the year 2020 by earning genealogy certificates. Join us. @goodgenesgenealogy on wordpress and fb, twitter Sign up for our blog and enjoy the journey.

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