Many Genealogists and Family Historians Report Copyright Violations by Peoplelegacy.com
[Editor’s Note: this post is solely the opinion of the author and the information below is based on factual reporting and investigation.]
UPDATE September 25th:
- Find A Grave is aware of the copyright violations by People Legacy and has posted at its news site: Taking action on improper use of material from Find A Grave
- In its latest move, it appears People Legacy has removed all images from actual record listings; however, you can still see images in the search results and they still contain the peoplelegacy.com watermark.
Early this afternoon I was alerted to a new site called People Legacy (https://www.peoplelegacy.com) by many members of the genealogy community. The reason: it appears that People Legacy has used copyrighted photos uploaded to Findagrave.com by members of the popular cemetery record and grave memorial website.
Most of the Findagrave members with whom I’ve had online conversations are outraged not just at the misappropriation of the content they supplied, but many feel violated at how Peoplelegacy.com has plastered their watermark over most photos.
Peoplelegacy.com Watermark on Photo of My Grandmother’s Gravestone
I visited the PeopleLegacy site this evening and searched for Anna Austin of Liberty, NY – my mother’s mother who passed in 1965. My mother’s cremains were buried in this same spot in August, 2015.
Imagine my surprise when I saw not just the data from the Find A Grave memorial for Anna Austin (1912-1965) (#18952298), but also the same photo as the memorial (taken by friend and colleague Geri Neumann and her family).
I also saw the peoplelegacy.com watermark plastered all over the image. During my search I’ve also seen actual photos of ancestors with the same watermarked plastered all over their faces.
Who is Peoplelegacy.com?
While poking around the PeopleLegacy website, several things (and a lack of several things) caused me to be very suspicious of this relatively new site:
- The About page (https://peoplelegacy.com/page/about) is very vague.
- There are NO social media links! I’m always wary when a new site is not at least on Twitter and Facebook . . . either the owners of the site have poor marketing skills OR, and more likely, they are trying not to be on the receiving end of feedback.
- The WHOIS record (which tracks where the domain name is registered and where the site is hosted) can be found HERE. Much of the information is “masked” to protect the identity of the registrant and the owner. From what I can tell:
– GoDaddy is the domain registrar; the DNS servers are NS-656.AWSDNS-18.NET, NS-1206.AWSDNS-22.ORG, NS-1686.AWSDNS-18.CO.UK, and NS-379.AWSDNS-47.COM; and the content is hosted at Amazon according to the record at MYIP.MS (see https://myip.ms/browse/sites/1/url/peoplelegacy.com/dns/109199)
- A recent press release posted at several sites including PR Web (https://www.prweb.com/releases/peoplelegacy_com_goes_live_with_millions_of_new_gravesite_records/prweb15739590.htm) list the author as NIKOS VASILIOU, PeopleLegacy, Inc. , +1 321-323-0818. (Note: the phone number appears on several spam caller websites and likely is fake, as is the name Vasiliou is the equivalent to “Williams” in English).
- A review of the Wayback Machine at Internet Archive shows that the domain name has been in use since 2004 but the last “snapshot” was taken in 2014 and there is no visible content (see https://web.archive.org/web/*/peoplelegacy.com).
I DO NOT recommend filing any take down notices or making any contact with GoDaddy, Amazon, Google. or the press release author at this time. Having worked with Ancestry on intellectual property issues before, I can tell you that they have things well in hand and I am content to wait and see how this plays out.
How Did Peoplelegacy.com Get Over 130 Million Find A Grave Memorials?
A Facebook user commenting on my post alerting the genealogy community (see https://www.facebook.com/tmacentee/posts/10215180495678623) surmised that the Find A Grave website may have been hacked and that any user should change their password.
My experience has shown that it is more likely that the owners of PeopleLegacy used an automated system – like a spider or a bot – to download all the publicly available content over a period of time. What disturbs me is that Ancestry did not realize that this massive amount of data was leaving their site by an automated process. Perhaps Ancestry was able to interrupt the download since PeopleLegacy claims 130 million records while the Find A Grave site is known to have at least 165 million records, if not more.
What Should You Do If Your Content Has Been Used by Peoplelegacy.com?
First, a disclaimer: in no way am I dispensing legal information or advice or recommending any course of action to be taken by any individual, whether or not they’ve had their content used by PeopleLegacy.
Second, I’ve been in touch with several of my contacts at Ancestry.com, the company that owns and administers the Find A Grave website. They are vigorously pursuing all avenues necessary to ensure that the content is not misused by PeopleLegacy or any other company or individual.
Third, my best recommendation is to a) take a deep breath because I know many people are angry and feel violated (and rightly so), b) make sure you follow the genealogy news on various sites including the Ancestry Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/AncestryUS/) and right here at Abundant Genealogy, and c) DO NOT bombard Ancestry with phone calls, emails or Facebook messages since this only ties up resources that could be better used to resolve this issue.
Disclosure Statement: I have material connections with various vendors and organizations. To review the material connections I have in the genealogy industry, please see Disclosure Statement.
©2018, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.