Copyright Notice
Frank Laughter
Explanation of Copyright Notices

Copyright law is probably the most complex of all federal statutes -- even worse than income tax code. Furthermore, copyright law is the least understood law, even by lawyers.

Here are some misconceptions: The copyright notice at the bottom of this page means that everything on the page is protected by law and that no one can use anything on this page without MY permission. Absolutely not true. This PAGE design and the program code construction is MY work and IS protected. My name is NOT protected because my name is in the Public Domain (Birth Certificate) and it cannot be copyrighted. You can REGISTER names to keep others from using them for commercial purposes, but you cannot copyright names, nor birth-dates, nor DOB, nor DOD, etc.

If I post this page on the Internet WITHOUT a copyright notice, I have then turned IT -- the page design and program code -- over to the public for whatever use anyone might want to make of it. If I post a photo of myself without copyright notice, I have converted it from MY PROPERTY to public property. If someone wanted to copy that photo and use it to promote a porno site, I couldn't stop them. You can't "take it back" once you have converted intellectual and artistic property to Public Domain status.

In short, the generally accepted and understood INFORMATION used in genealogy CANNOT be copyrighted. The INFORMATION contained and displayed on Genealogy sites is PUBLIC DOMAIN information because it is a matter of public record, available throughout the U.S. in the public records of states and counties. Even listed phone numbers, e-mail addresses, street addreses, etc., are public and cannot be copyrighted.

Copyright notices on pages of The Laughter Genealogy site, The Laughter Genealogy Research and Reference Center, and related pages, protect those pages and content as constructed. It is illegal to use copies from the site or portions of the site for purposes other than stated on the Home Page. Under copyright law, I reserve the right to STOP anyone from copying the site, pages from the site, or any portion(s) of the site, and using the copied materials for profit or mis-use, i.e., indecent or illicit purposes. HOWEVER, the genealogy INFORMATION, per se, is in the public domain, and anyone can use it in any way they so desire, including publication for commercial purposes.

Other Important Points

Selling copies of materials or granting "permission for use" DOES NOT transfer copyrights. Copyright transfer requires an overt act, specified by EXACT language, and using EXACT language. Casual and made up language will not transfer copyrights. Therefore, granting "permission for use," giving away copies, or selling copies, does not jeopardize one's copyright ownership.

Some cousins have sent photos, anecdotes, or other material for use on the site. MY copyright notice protects THEM from mis-use of their material. I do not have permission to use the material beyond display and I cannot grant other uses. Anyone needing additional permissions will have to contact the copyright owners.

Copyright (1998 - 2001): Concord Learning Systems, Concord, NC.
All rights reserved.