Episode 270 - The Legal Genealogist On What You Need To Know About Copyright / David Gets Library Naming Honor

podcast episode Feb 10, 2019

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Fisher begins the segment reviewing David’s recent honor… a genealogical library in Brockton, Massachusetts is naming their genealogical section the “David Allen Lambert Library.” (And David isn’t even dead yet!) Hear David’s reaction to the news. David then shares news from RootsTech and their Virtual Pass. Listen for how you can get a 10% Extreme Genes discount. Next, David reports disturbing news about cobblestone streets in Prague, when it seems that the stones are actually the remains of tombstones from Jewish cemeteries that were destroyed during World War II. The Maryland Assembly is taking a look at DNA sites being used in police cases. The guys explain what the legislation might look like. Then, a pair of twins… who didn’t even know they were twins… have found each other. The guys talk about the television show that inspired one of the twin women to take a DNA test. David’s Blogger Spotlight this week shines on “Dear Myrt” and Myrt’s Musings. Go to DearMyrtle.com/blog2. Myrt has been blogging for over a decade and is herself a shining light in the field.

Next, The Legal Genealogist, Judy Russell, visits with Fisher for two segments. Judy explains the new copyright laws that benefit all of us in terms of what we can and cannot freely use, especially in the context of publishing family histories. Judy explains how “fair use” can keep you out of trouble, and talks about complications of getting photos of tombstones.

Then, it’s Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com who answers more of your preservation questions. Tom chats about using various software to restore writing on documents, even bring back documents that have bled through from the other side.

That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!

Transcript of Episode 270 

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 270

Fisher: Welcome to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. And if you’re new to the show, welcome, welcome, welcome! Glad to have you because this is where you can learn so much about how to research your family and techniques, and you’ll hear some great stories and all kind of information that can help you in your journey from others who have gone along the same way. And coming up today, we have one of the grand guests that you could have in the field of family history research. She goes by the handle The Legal Genealogist. She is Judy Russell, and we’re going to talk about copyright. Now, this sounds like, oh my gosh this could be really exciting. If you’re writing a history about your family and you want to make sure you’re doing it right and protecting yourself from trouble, she’s going to keep you out of it by helping you understand some of the changes in copyright law, what images that you can obtain and put in your publication, or whatever it is you’re doing, how you can do it right, also talking about the importance of terms of service on working with certain websites. There’s a lot to it. You’re going to want to hear what she has to say, coming right up. Hey, if you haven’t signed up for our “Weekly Genie Newsletter” yet, just go to ExtremeGenes.com. It’s absolutely free. We love to share with you links to great stories you’ll be interested in, links to current shows, past shows and a blog from me very week. Right now it is time to head out to Boston to a man, you know, I just don’t know if I can even talk with him anymore, not in a league with him anymore, because coming up on February 23rd Brockton, Massachusetts is naming the David Allen Lambert Library at the Home of the Friends of Irish Research and Alliance of Massachusetts Genealogists. Congratulations David, what an honor! You’re not even dead yet!

David: I know. I told them. I said if they were concerned about that they could leave a little space after Lambert for the word “memorial” you know. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah, I’ve seen that situation come up before with highways, where they named it for a congressman and he is not dead yet, and they have the word memorial. They had to take them down. They didn’t realize.

David: Well, maybe they’ll have one in the back room or something.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: I’m humbled beyond belief. I’ve been doing genealogy since I was seven years old and obviously I’ve collected a lot of books. So, I’ve decided I’m not going to be an absolute minimalist, but I’m downsizing. So, I’ve been giving a lot of books that we don’t have here from my personal library to work at NEHGS, but there’s many of them, over twenty boxes worth that we already had. I didn’t just want to throw them away and I work too far away to bring them in. 

Fisher: Yeah, yeah, yeah, so what you’re saying is you didn’t donate $200,000 of your personal fortune to the library to buy the name.

David: No, two hundred thousand pages. [Laughs]

Fisher: Two hundred thousand pages maybe, there you go.

David: A variety of books maybe yeah. Paper in another sense.

Fisher: That makes sense. That’s great, but the dedication’s coming February 23rd?

David: It is and you could find out more at amgenealogists.org.

Fisher: That is just so awesome. Well, congratulations.

David: Thanks Fish.

Fisher: See, you are now a part of our Family Histoire News today!

David: [Laughs] And I didn’t have to die!

Fisher: I know! It’s fantastic.

David: Or turn 110. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Exactly. All right, what do you have for us today, bud?

David: Well, you know, RootsTech is coming up and a lot of our listeners on Extreme Genes won’t be there with us in Salt Lake City, but now you can use what is called a “virtual pass” and this registration is $79, and you can also purchase our RootsTech virtual pass for $129 as an add on if you’re already registered. So, you can find all this on RootsTech.org about their virtual pass so you can access lectures. Some of them have been selected to go virtual seat and watch from home.

Fisher: Yeah, it’s very cool and you can get a 10% off discount by using the promo code Radio19. That’s for Extreme Genes listeners.

David: That’s excellent. Well, the horrors of World War II are still in our memory. And in the old city of Prague, if you’ve ever visited, and you walk the cobblestoned streets, one person wondered what they were made of. And about twenty years ago they flipped over a couple of them. They had names and dates on them. Unfortunately, it turns out a majority of  these stones may have been harvested from destroyed Jewish graveyards, cut into square cobbles and assembled in the cobblestoned streets of old Prague, which is, I think, terrible.

Fisher: Wow.

David: But this has probably gone on unfortunately, in many, many places throughout and how many cemeteries were just basically let go.

Fisher: Annihilated, yeah, yeah, yeah.

David: We always hear about the Golden State killer and about the DNA and GedMatch people have got the killer’s relations matched up. Now, in Maryland, they’re looking at legislations that may limit the use of that on a state wide basis.

Fisher: Yeah, this is going to be an interesting debate because the authorities there are saying wait a minute, people provide their DNA voluntarily for these places and it’s of great help obviously. You know the thing is I think we’re all kind of waiting to see what the first court case on all this is going to bring because there haven’t been any convictions yet, and there haven’t been any rulings yet on the technique.

David: I still say, personally, that if my cousin went out and killed a dozen people, and if my DNA can narrow that down, I’m not objecting.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: I’ll tell you, with adoptions you always get surprises and of course you know last year I found out I had an adopted sister, but I didn’t find out I had twins.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: This is a story about twins that found out through a CNN program that they were adopted out, but not together.

Fisher: Yeah, there was a show on called Three Identical Strangers and it was about this adoption center in New York back in the ‘60s and earlier I guess that would adopt out these kids and if they were twins/triples, whatever, they wouldn’t inform the adopted families of the case. As a result of this story this one twin saw it and said well, that was my agency that adopted me out. It’s time for me to spit in a cup and she did and immediately located a nephew, and that’s how she found her twin sister. They couldn’t wait to get together, took them like three weeks to do it and what a great reunion.

David: Well, our blogger spotlight falls upon DearMyrt. Myrt has what’s called Myrt’s Musings at dearmyrtle.com/blog2. Myrt’s Musings are very amusing, very informative, and always very entertaining. She’s been doing this for now well over a decade, and she has a great following. We all love Myrt.

Fisher: Yes we do.

David: And just a little bit of spotlight love to her at Myrt’s Musings this week. Well, NEHGS would love to have you as a member if you haven’t been here before. After 174 years we’re waiting for you to come into our library, and you can use the code “Extreme” and save $20 on our membership which is going up very shortly.

Fisher: All right, thank you so much David. Congratulations once again on the library naming, the David Allen Lambert Library. Unbelievable. And he’s not even dead.

David: Okay.

Fisher: David, we’ll talk to you again next week. [Laughs] And coming up next we’re going to talk to The Legal Genealogist, Judy Russell, in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 270

Host: Scott Fisher with Judy Russell

Fisher: And welcome back! It is America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and this is just one of those things that doesn’t happen often enough. I get to have my good friend, Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist in studio with me today, and we’ve locked the doors, Judy, there’s no escape.

Judy: Uh oh.

Fisher: Because we’ve got so many things to talk about! How are you?

Judy: I’m good. How about you?

Fisher: It’s great to see you. For people who are not familiar with Judy, she is one of the great national speakers. You will see her at conferences all over the country, talking about all kinds of things. She’s a very low-key person with very few opinions about anything.

Judy: Scott, your nose is growing.

Fisher: [Laughs] That is exactly right. So, you know, this is a great time to have you on because there have been some big changes this year about copyright. And for anybody who wants to write their own history, the history of the family, they want to include photographs, or quote from whatever, or grab whatever material from the past, it’s really important to know legally what to do, ethically what to do, what risks you might want to take concerning these things. We hear about it all the time and you’re the perfect person to talk to about this, so let’s explain the change that has gone on and put it in the context of people writing history and how it would affect them.

Judy: Yeah, 2019 is a terrific year for all of us who have to rely on materials that have been produced by somebody else, because for the first time since 1998 materials have shifted from being copyright protected to being in the public domain. Now, public domain is not a physical location.

Fisher: Right.

Judy: It’s a legal status.

Fisher: Yeah.

Judy: And it means we can do whatever we want with them. They’re no longer protected. We no longer have to ask permission. We can edit them, we can republish them, and they’re free for everybody. And what happened back when we had that in 1976 copyright law which was a complete revision of the law, and the Disney Corporation was a little concerned that the movie in which Mickey Mouse made his debut…

Fisher: [Laughs] That’s right, yeah. 1928.

Judy: Steamboat Willie was about to fall out of copyright protection so they got a change that stopped the clock for 20 years.

Fisher: Wow.

Judy: And so we were all kind of sitting on the edge of our seats as December came along, 2018, waiting to see if Congress was going to, what’s the technical legal term, “muck it up”again?

Fisher: [Laughs]

Judy: And stop the clock from running again, but no, they were busy with other things or not busy at all. You never can tell.

Fisher: Right.

Judy: And the clock ticked over on January 1, 2019, and everything published in 1923 fell into the public domain.

Fisher: Sweet.

Judy: And as of January 1, 2020, it will be everything published in 1924, and so on.

Fisher: Yeah, forever more, hopefully.

Judy: Yes, and once it’s in the public domain, it’s very hard to take it out.

Fisher: Sure.

Judy: So these are things like, for example, some town records from New England that were published by the New England Historical Genealogical Society, some of the SAR application books that were published in 1923, all of these have now fallen into the public domain, and that means we can use them for anything we want.

Fisher: Any images of them?

Judy: Anything published, whether it’s an image, a motion picture, a radio program, anything legally published in the United States.

Fisher: Music.

Judy: Before 1924, is now in the public domain.

Fisher: Right, and then next year it just moves up and it keeps on going. And you know, the thing is, over the next, just say five years, think of how much material that is.

Judy: We were trying to get an estimate of how many books, just books, were published in the United States in 1923. It’s thousands, thousands of books that were published in 1923. Khalil Gibran’s “The Prophet” was published in 1923.

Fisher: And people could take these books, then, and make movies out of them.

Judy: Make movies.

Fisher: Without permission or whatever it may be.

Judy: Yes, and think of the movies that came out in 1923.

Fisher: Yes.

Judy: We can now use clips in a presentation, or on television, or anywhere we’d like.

Fisher: Sure. Let’s go back now to histories. If I’m writing a history and I want to put in a photograph, say, of my grandfather’s hometown in 1924, I’ve got a copyright issue there to deal with.

Judy: You have a potential copyright issue.

Fisher: A potential one. Okay.

Judy: One of the things that we kind of forget sometimes is that if something was published let’s say in a newspaper in 1925.

Fisher: Okay.

Judy: So it’s clearly potentially copyrighted.

Fisher: Yeah.

Judy: And the newspaper said in the newspaper, this is a copyrighted publication, and they registered it with the copyright office. It was for 28 years.

Fisher: Oh.

Judy: Did they re-register the copyright?

Fisher: Okay.

Judy: So that it persists to today? They may not have. The estimate is that only 5-10% of things that were ever copyrighted were then extended, so there’s a lot that’s out there that is in the public domain and we don’t know that it’s in the public domain, because we haven’t done our homework.

Fisher: Well see, that’s where people like you come in with a law degree who know how to do that kind of homework.

Judy: Oh, it’s so hard.

Fisher: Yeah?

Judy: Can I see that without my nose growing?

Fisher: [Laughs] Go ahead.

Judy: There’s a database at Stanford University, and it’s online. So you can go to the Stanford University database, plug in your item, and see whether there was an extension filed.

Fisher: Oh wow.

Judy: Between 1923....

Fisher: That simple?

Judy: Yep. It’s that simple.

Fisher: Who knew? I would’ve gotten a law degree if I knew it was going to be that simple. [Laughs]

Judy: Well there are certain other parts of the law that are probably not quite that easy.

Fisher: Then the other question comes in, if it didn’t fall out of copyright 28 years later, and I would imagine it was only a very small percentage that actually went to the trouble to renew it. What did they care about in 1925?

Judy: About a newspaper in 1925?

Fisher: 1924-25. They didn’t, you know, and so it’s more than likely that they did not renew that copyright. But now here it is, 2019, and you’ve got this picture from 1925 that was maybe in the newspaper, and you’re going to reproduce the image that was in that newspaper. Is there really a concern on the part of the people who would technically own that copyright? Do they even know they own it, first of all? And would they spend the time on it? And I guess the question is, there’s the ethic side of it.

Judy: Right.

Fisher: But there’s also the practicality side of it. Are you doing any harm? And these are questions you have to ask. So, what is the real risk to somebody who says you know, I’m going to run this picture from 1925 of grandpa’s hometown, and I’m going to put it in a book. And it’s one thing to say I’m going to put it in a book and give it to my family.

Judy: Right.

Fisher: I think it’s another thing to say I’m going to put it in a book and I’m going to have somebody publish this, and we’re going to sell it nationwide and it’s going to be through Barnes and Noble and all that.

Judy: There’s always a risk benefit analysis in these things on whether or not there really is somebody who’s going to come and come after you. But if they do, here’s the problem.

Fisher: Yeah.

Judy: If you should’ve known, you really should’ve known. You stopped and you thought about copyright and you decided to take the risk anyway, and they come after you, the statutory damages, meaning they don’t even have to prove they were damaged. They just have to prove that you knowingly published this in spite of the potential copyright problems. You can have like an automatic damage of $30,000 to $150,000 per incident.

Fisher: Wow!

Judy: So, there is a risk. The question is how do you balance that against the chance that somebody really is going to come after you, they really are going to be concerned. And that’s why I think the factors that the statute sets out on what’s called “fair use” come into play, and there’re four of them that the courts will look at, and it’s a complete defense to a copyright claim. The statute says it is not a violation of copyright if it’s a fair use, and one of the factors, and each of them has to be looked at, so don’t stop at one.

Fisher: Sure.

Judy: But one of the factors is, what use are you making of it? Is it educational? Is it very commercial? Are you using it in a presentation to teach genealogists how to do genealogy, or are you putting it on a t-shirt and selling it at the beach?

Fisher: [Laughs]

Judy: That’s a big difference between educational purposes and commercial purposes.

Fisher: Sure. Okay. Yeah.

Judy: The second thing is, what’s the nature of the work? If it’s mostly factual, it’s going to get very low protection.

Fisher: So like the newspaper article?

Judy: A newspaper article, or something like that which is mostly factual.

Fisher: Is it the image of the article, or is it just the words itself that you could quote?

Judy: Well, it’s both, actually.

Fisher: Okay.

Judy: Because the image doesn’t get any greater or lesser protection than the copyrighted item itself.

Fisher: Okay.

Judy: If it’s very artistic, if it’s a sculpture or a painting, then it’s going to get a lot higher protection. The third thing is, how much of it are you using, and how important is that part of it? You know, we were taught in school, I think, as long as you don’t use more than 10%, it’s okay.

Fisher: 10% of…

Judy: An original.

Fisher: Of an article?

Judy: 10% of an article, 10% of the newspaper, 10% of the picture.

Fisher: A photo, yeah, okay.

Judy: That’s not true. It’s not mathematical. It’s substantiality. It’s what’s the significance of this. Great example is a magazine and a book publisher. The book publisher publishes a book, 350,000 words.

Fisher: Right.

Judy: The magazine publishes 350 of those 350,000. Case goes all the way to the US Supreme Court. US Supreme Court says that’s not fair use.

Fisher: Really?

Judy: Because the book was the autobiography of Gerald Ford, and the 350 words was his explanation for the very first time why he pardoned Richard Nixon. It was the heart of the book. It was why people were buying the book.

Fisher: Oh, so they guttered it basically.

Judy: And then there’s the fourth factor which is, what’s the impact on the value of the original?

Fisher: Okay.

Judy: And the courts are going to look at all four of those. Now for a single image of your grandfather’s town in 1925…

Fisher: On a postcard.

Judy: Those are all going to go over into fair use. I would be very surprised if there’s an issue at all. Now ethically, and this is an easy one for us as genealogists, the big thing is, give them credit.

Fisher: That’s right. You give them credit and you’ve really covered yourself to a great extent.

Judy: And we do that as genealogists. We cite our sources.

Fisher: Exactly. She’s Judy Russell. She’s The Legal Genealogist. She’s trapped in my studio, and we’re going to come back and talk some more about this and some other issues that are coming up in 2019, when we return in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 270

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Judy Russell

Fisher: All right, we’re talking law, we’re talking ethics. We’re talking all those things that the Legal Genealogist talks about, Judy Russell. Hey, it’s Fisher here. It’s Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. And, it’s great to have you in the studio once again Judy. We rarely get to do this.

Judy: It’s always a lot of fun but time is always a problem.

Fisher: Yes it is! So, you know, we’re going to keep the door locked until we get done with this segment at least and then we’ll get you to where you’ve got to go. We’ve been talking a lot about copyright and how people deal with that in the context of maybe creating histories or writing stories and including photographs, clips from newspapers, and you know it’s kind of a complicated thing for the average person to navigate. One thing that came up that you talked about in the last segment was the idea that copyright only extended 28 years and it was really very rarely. Ninety percent of the time it wasn’t renewed after 28 years.

Judy: Certainly for books, magazines, and newspapers.

Fisher: Yeah.

Judy: Five to ten percent would be the only ones.

Fisher: That’s it.

Judy: Because they wouldn’t see a financial benefit to renewing it the second time.

Fisher: Of course, too much trouble and too much money. Anything would be too much money in that case because you’re right they couldn’t use it and they didn’t see the value in content because they couldn’t see to this day.

Judy: What we’d do with it.

Fisher: Right. So, going back to 2008, YouTube was the new thing and I found on YouTube a video from 1936 of the Russ Morgan Orchestra. My dad was a professional musician. He was 22 years old, featured playing clarinet in the middle of this thing and it was an emotional find because I had never seen my dad play. He was always a musical arranger while I was growing up. So, this was very exciting to me and I actually even found the full film version of this on eBay which I bought and then loaded that up onto YouTube as well. But, to use it in another way brings up a question. Now, 1936 is definitely in a period of copyright.

Judy: It is.

Fisher: That has not yet been released to public domain no matter what. But, it’s very possible I suppose that, that film itself was not renewed 28 years later which would have been 1964. So, are you telling me that I could actually go to the Stanford University site and see if that was renewed or not?

Judy: That’s one place you could go. The copyright office which is at the Library of Congress is another option. But yeah, you’re going to need to check that because it does have potential value.

Fisher: Films?

Judy: Films, music, all kinds of things have the same copyright protection.

Fisher: Sure. Fascinating, and you’ve got to think some of that though did expire. I mean, wasn’t there a big thing about Jimmy Stewart’s movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life,” and there were copyright issues with that for a long time.

Judy: Right.

Fisher: And that’s why everybody and their brother, well, it was shown on like nineteen channels. [Laughs]

Judy: [Laughs] To the point where you get tired of listening to this. I don’t want to hear the bell anymore.

Fisher: The bell, the bell. Exactly right! So, that’s an interesting point to clean up is that we can go back to some of these places fairly easily. According to you they should go and figure out if some of these things have been copyrighted or not and you can use them in histories. It’s great to know.

Judy: But one of the important things to understand in this context is that the fact that you own a copy of that film, you bought it legally on eBay.

Fisher: Yep.

Judy: Doesn’t mean you acquired the copyright on it. 

Fisher: No, I understand that, yes.

Judy: There’s a difference and a lot of people don’t understand that if they own a thing, they may not own the rights to the thing. Big example, are school photographs.

Fisher: Really!

Judy: Where, unless the photographer assigned the copyright to the parent who bought the picture, the photographer still owns the copyright. And sending it out to all the grandparents without buying another copy is technically a violation of the copyright.

Fisher: And we have a lot of school year books that are online now, all over the place. Are you aware of any instance where somebody connected with a school photographer from the 1950s, has come back on somebody for using an image of themselves?

Judy: Not so much the 1950s but certainly later there have been photographers who have said, “Wait a minute, I didn’t give permission for this to be online.”

Fisher: Right.

Judy: And there are a lot of individual students who don’t want their high school pictures online.

Fisher: Right. [Laughs]

Judy: So, that’s an ethical issue and a privacy issue.

Fisher: Yeah. That’s right. [Argh]

Judy: So, there were all kinds of things to come up in this respect.

Fisher: This is a complicated world here.

Judy: It is a complicated world. It’s a wonderful world of having all of these things available online. But, knowing when we can and can’t use them is tough stuff.

Fisher: Sure. Well, you don’t want to lose sleep over things you’re trying to do and decisions you’re trying to make to share.

Judy: Right.

Fisher: You know, that’s really the bottom line because people who are into this aren’t looking to harm anybody.

Judy: No.

Fisher: They’re looking to help.

Judy: We want to help but the idea that we can defend ourselves from a copyright claim by just saying, well I was just sharing.

Fisher: Yeah, it doesn’t work.

Judy: And this for example comes up all the time with pictures that are on FindAGrave.

Fisher: Yes. Okay, let’s go to cemetery photographs.

Judy: Cemetery photographs are tough things for two ways. One is, I took the picture.

Fisher: Right, so you own it.

Judy: I own the copyright. Have I given permission to everybody else to use it? And a lot of FindAGrave contributors do, in their profile say, “You can use this as long as you give me credit.”

Fisher: Right.

Judy: So, you have to look and see.

Fisher: Sure.

Judy: A bigger issue that’s coming up more and more these days are cemeteries putting up....

Fisher: Barriers.

Judy: Barriers to people wanting to take pictures.

Fisher: Yeah.

Judy: They say that you have to have permission of the family for example, to take a tombstone photograph. I’ve had that situation myself when I was asked as a random act of kindness contributor, to take a picture of a tombstone in a Catholic cemetery in New Jersey. When I went to the office to find out where the stone was. They said, where’s your authority from the family? Fortunately I had the email with me.

Fisher: Right.

Judy: But if I had not had that they would not have allowed me to take that picture.

Fisher: Well, and because it is private property essentially. The cemetery can make its own rules, right?

Judy: They absolutely can make their own rules. We’ve had a couple of instances of communities in Canada where the cemetery is owned by the town or the county, saying, we don’t want cemetery photography. And they have said no photographs.

Fisher: Wow. You know, I would think this, okay, that’s my grandfather’s grave. My family paid for that tombstone. That’s my right to have an image of that grave.

Judy: Right. And in general, even the cemeteries that have restrictions will allow the family but then the question is, who is the family? There was a time in Germany when I wasn’t regarded as closely enough related to my great grandfather to get his death record, under German privacy laws. So, we have to define who’s the family? A direct descendant. Okay, how about this is your mother’s aunt? Well, you’re not a direct descendent.

Fisher: By marriage.

Judy: Yeah, no one.

Fisher: Uh huh.

Judy: So, there are all of these issues that come into play.

Fisher: And you’re from one of the toughest states I’ve ever seen for records, New Jersey.

Judy: Actually New Jersey is getting better.

Fisher: They are.

Judy: New York is now the problem, that whole area.

Fisher: Yeah. But I remember reaching out to them to get a death record from 1939 of my grandfather’s half brother and they wanted to really question me. Well, what do you need this for? Who are you? What’s your relationship? Can you prove it? I’m like, “He died in 1939. I can’t steal his identity. Are you kidding me?!” [Laughs]

Judy: In Texas, I was not allowed to take a picture of a death register showing my second great grandfather who died in 1903.

Fisher: Because they’re concerned about identity theft.

Judy: Identity theft.

Fisher: And of course Texas was the place that was the heart of all this stuff about the Social Security Death Index.

Judy: Well, the congressman who let that fight close the Social Security Death Index, was from Texas.

Fisher: Yeah. Boy, it is a complicated world here. I don’t know if I feel better after talking to you or not.

Judy: There are some ways and the big thing is there is so much out there that is in the public domain and now more every year.

Fisher: All right, what are you up to coming up here so people can follow you?

Judy: Well, I’m going to be in Alabama speaking to the Alabama Genealogical Society in early March. Oh, the West Valley Genealogical Society in Phoenix, right outside of Phoenix in late February. So, there are really some good stuff coming up, some organizations that I’m really pleased to be speaking to.

Fisher: And of course at the LegalGenealogist.com. You’ve got some great blogs there on all kinds of topics. Her mind just spews these things out and there they are.

Judy: [Laughs]

Fisher: And they’re always fascinating. Hey, it’s always a joy to have you on Judy. Thanks so much for coming on and we’ll talk to you again soon, okay?

Judy: Thank you for having me.

Fisher: Tom Perry talks preservation coming up next on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 270

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And welcome back! Its America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. And it is time to talk preservation with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And Tom, we're hearing from people who want to understand what to do with old photographs that are sticking together. And you know, we always go back to those 1970s era things that they called "magnetic photo albums" which were anything but magnetic. It was just glue that kind of stuck the things to the album itself and often to each other.

Tom: Oh, that stuff is awful! It was way before the posted ever came out that's kind of removable. These things were really, really bad. And the thing is, the more people get into family history, the more they're getting excited about it, digging deeper into old boxes, old shipping containers, and they're finding some really cool things that they're going, "Oh my gosh! This has been in here for years! I can't even hardly read it anymore. It’s hard to make out. “Well, I guess this goes in the garbage can.” No, no, no, no, no! Back up! Step away from it, get your composure! Pick it back up. Scan it at the highest dpi you can. And I don't care if its black and white, you always want to scan it in full color, full resolution, because that will give you more power when you go into Photoshop, Digital Darkroom, different programs like this that are going to make it look great!

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. And there are so many programs out there, even Photoshop Elements, there's RESTORE from Vivid-Pix of course that can do some great things for you. But I love what you're saying. I mean, you even take black and white photos and you scan them in color, because then that allows you to do some things to bring this picture back. Obviously a lot of these pictures are going to be so destroyed by the years and years of being in the wrong environment that that isn't where you're going to get the picture from. You're going to get it from making a restoration of these things. And it’s just not that hard to do with some of the technology that's out there today.

Tom: Oh, in fact, it’s really, really simple. It’s just, people didn't know back then that, "Oh hey, the heat in my attic is going to hurt these photos." And people have brought us in thing that they had, like a special letter that was framed from grandpa when he was in the war. And unfortunately it was facing a west window and so it’s almost totally gone. You can hardly make it out. No big deal! You can still go and scan that, and with things as simple as playing around with filters, which is non destructive, so if you go too far one way or another, no big deal. Just, you know, command+z [Control + Z] and undo it or go back to your original. But you can take these letters that are totally gone and bring them back and make them look just like brand new. And since you scanned it in color, if you want to make, hey, dad's pen in blue or red or green or purple or whatever and put a little bit of sepia tone in the back to kind of make it look like an old letter or you want it to be stark black and white, that's great. You're going to be able to do all those things, because you scanned it in full resolution, full color.

Fisher: Yeah, I've done this, too, where some letters have faded and the ink is just about gone and you can bring it back to the point you read it. I have a collection of old baseball players, 19th century baseball figures, and sometimes there are letters involved there where the ink is just about faded out. But by scanning it, you can actually read what's being said there.

Tom: I've even seen get those special dark lights that kind of have a purple hue to them, where all you can see, you can still see the engraving in the paper and you can scan those with enough filters on them that will bring those back. And I've even seen people actually scan it backwards, because there's more of an impression on the back side than on the front side. And then once they have that, they go and do a filter and they want to take anything at all that is a contrast and adjust those things in these different programs and it will bring the letter right back up. And if you did it backwards, then all you have to do is reverse it or flip it and you can read it just like it was perfect before. And then you can decide exactly how you want it preserved. And make sure you use the good USB hard drives. You want to go to B&HPhoto, you want to go to some place like that, go to Amazon and read different people's results on those things, so you know what's the good quality stuff. We use Taiyo Yuden disks. You want to use something that's quality. So like you said in previous segments, if you spend all this time and money doing it, you want to make sure it’s done right. Because if you don't have time to do it right the first time, you're never going to have time to do it over again.

Fisher: Boy, you are so right there, Tom! And we've got to delve more into this here in the next segment. I want to talk about some of those old letters where the ink has bled into the other side. And maybe there's a solution for dealing with that, too. We'll kick it around, coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 270

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Okay, we're back to talk preservation with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. And you know Tom, an interesting situation came up with a family Bible some time back where I was given copies of it, but the ink from the back side had bled through. And so now you've got this complicated stuff. It’s not like none of it is legible, but when you try to create a copy of it that's worthy where you can actually read one side and read the other side, it’s really challenging, because the ink from both sides bled through to both sides. Is there some kind of solution for fixing that in a scan?

Tom: Oh yeah. It’s basically just like forensic science, because to our naked eye, it looks like that blue is all blue, but you go and scan it at a really high dpi like we talked about in the first segment, then you can go in with what they call histograms that you'll find in Photoshop and you can go and adjust it very, very simply, because I can guarantee you the ink's not going to be exactly the same shade, the contrast is going to be different. So if you go and play with these histograms in Photoshop or a program like that, you'll be able to bring up the highlights and sit and play around with it just by moving sliders. You don't have to like to do something and wait five minutes and see how it turned out. Move the sliders in real time and you'll be able to make the stuff that's bled through go away. And you might have a situation where a page is missing, so you want both of them. So you slide it one way and get the main thing first, which is going to be easier, but then go just the opposite and you can get the one that's lighter that's more subdued that bled from the other page, then you're going to have it. And again, if it’s backwards, you can flip it. There's just so many options to do.

Fisher: Wow!

Tom: So yeah, it makes it really, really easy, because you can take all these histograms and do some amazing things with them. And once you start playing with them, you're going to find fun things to do with it, too, because you might want to add a little bit of the antique to it as well or you might want to make it stark contrast. There's different ways you can do this. You can actually print them on old parchment, then put it up in a frame in your house. You don't care if it’s a west facing wall. Who cares!? I've got the master. I can get some more parchment paper and print it out again. So this way, you can keep your really nice things in places you're not worried about it being destroyed. You always want to put the copies up. You don't want to put your originals up. You want to keep them in a good, safe place. Make sure you put special papers between them or wax paper, depending on what kind it is. They need to be kept in the right temperature. Same thing with your photos, so they don't stick together and become glue, because then you're going to have to get into the water baths and do all the separation with piano wire and all kinds of fun stuff, which we've talked about on previous segments.

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. You know, you're absolutely right. I do have another Bible that's absolutely beautiful. The pages though were really dog eared. And so, I went and Photoshopped all of those pages and then went through and corrected discoloration and little chunks that were taken out that changed pieces of art that were kind of on the side and recreated those using pieces from elsewhere. I mean, there's so many things you can do with that. And then I took those Bible pages and I printed them up on photo paper and then framed them with UV glass and acid free matting. And it is hung on a wall, three pages, births, deaths and marriages that is facing north. So we don't deal with the western exposure, which can fade the originals. But with these, of course I could just go and replace them if something did happen to them.

Tom: Oh yes, absolutely. Too many people get too caught up in, "Oh no! What am I going to do with this! I really want to show it. I need something on this wall. What am I going to do?" Hey, you go this route, you're not going to have any problems like that, because you're going to be able to do it over and over again. And we're away, away from the holidays, but hey, start thinking about things you can do right now, and spend the whole summer. And the neat thing is, it’s fun to do. It’s not like you're putting in a new sprinkler system. The more you get into this, the funner it becomes and the more enjoyable it is. And then you want to do all kind of things, because it’s so much fun to do.

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely true. Tom, good talking to you. Have a great week and we'll catch up with you next time.

Tom: My pleasure.

Fisher: Hey, that's our show for this week. Thanks once again to our special guest, Judy Russell, the Legal Genealogist who came in studio and shared her vast knowledge to help keep us out of trouble as we write our histories for our family, maybe even publish them. Yeah, you don't want to be dealing with copyright and issues with terms of service. So if you missed any of that, make sure you catch the podcast, go to ExtremeGenes.com, go to iTunes.com, you can also catch us on iHeart Radio. Thanks for joining us. We'll talk to you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!



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