A few of the blogs I read, including The Genealogue and Genea-Musings, today have posted the fact that Ancestry.com is “caching” free genealogy website information and charging its subscribers to access that data! Among those sites that are finding their data in Ancestry’s subscription-only database is USGenNet:
Dateline: 26 August 2007
Copycats on the Loose! Sites on the USGenNet server have been copied and cached versions of pages are being shown in Ancestry'Com's subscription only site. USGenNet President, Ginger Cisewski, sent a notice to all account holders and has assured everyone that USGenNet will be dealing with this promptly. A viewable sample of a copied page is now available at http://www.usgennet.org/usgnhome/business/ancestry.html for those who don't have a subscription to Ancestry.Com.
This wrong on so many levels! Most of the free sites affected haven’t given permission to have this caching done, and may not even be aware that it is occuring.
I had a subscription to Ancestry.com a few years ago and did get a lot of valuable data from it. This was when I first started looking at my family history. But as my knowledge of genealogy and my research experience increased, I became aware of both the many “free” and low-cost sites that are available. I also came to realize that I’m not sure I like Ancestry.com. They are too commercial and it just doesn’t seem right to me that they charge so much for their databases. Now I realize that it is a business, but I’m just not comfortable with them.
I also realize that “free” websites are not free to manage and maintain. But I would much rather be able to visit an open site, and then make a donation to that site in return for any useful data I might find there. I have done this in the past and will continue to do so.
I am also a volunteer for RAOGK because I like to help others with their research if I can. I feel this is also a way that I can “return the favor”!