Episode 69 - Ethics and DNA Genealogy Research and Researching Bob HopeDec 15, 2014
Fisher opens the show with an amazing story about a holiday incident in his family in the 1960s. In Family Histoire news, a new study of Viking DNA reveals that Vikings wives may have played a more "hands on" role in their conquests than previous known. Also, the Vikings are now believed to have settled on particular island city that you are well aware of. What city was it? Listen to the story to learn more. Then, a woman in Virginia discovered a home embalming kit and some very cool records in her home that once belonged to her great grandfather. What did the records reveal and what is she doing with them? Fisher will tell you.
That's this week on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show!
Transcript of Episode 69
Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show
Host: Scott Fisher
Segment 1 Episode 69
Fisher: Hello genies! If you’re joining us for the first time, this is America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes. I am your Radio Roots Sleuth Fisher on the show that helps you to shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. You know, every week we bring you experts and stories and history and hopefully the inspiration and knowledge you need to connect with not only the dead people in your life, many of whom you don’t even know, yet, but the living as well. And that’s because all of us are making family history every single day. You know as usual, we have great guests this week, a pair of experts. You’ll remember last week we talked about family history DNA and what has happened in that world over the last fifteen years, to get us to where we are today. Well that whole topic of genetic genealogy has in a way boiled over recently with discussions on the ethics of what to do with those inevitable surprises that come alone that may cause embarrassment or pain to living family members. I’ll be discussing that whole sticky wicket with the Legal Genealogist Judy Russell, who has a way of bringing clarity to things like this, like few others. She’ll be on in about eight minutes, then later in the show, a long time friend and professional genealogist from ProGenealogist.com, George Ott. George has for many years done research for the stars and has had some amazing experiences in interacting with them. He’ll also talk about some of the tricks of the trade in research that I know you’re going to want to hear. And of course with time running out on the holidays, Tom Perry, our Preservation Authority returns with family gift ideas that you can still get done in time for the holidays while staying out of trouble with the copyright laws. It’s too easy to do that so you’ll want to pay close attention.
Our ExtremeGenes.com poll for this week asks, “Is there a favorite family history story that gets told every year at Christmas?” Well 60% of you said yes. I’m thinking they must be really good ones. The best one in my family actually happened at Thanksgiving in the late 60s when my eleven year old brother was being chased around our uncle’s place in New Jersey by our tipsy sixty two year old aunt. She had decided that his hair was way too long, way too much like the Beatles for her taste, so she decided that she was going to cut it. Well she finally cornered him and moved in with her scissors, and when he put his fist up, she lowered the scissors and said, “I dare you.” Well he took her up on the dare, and as she hit the ground my cousin’s husband yelled at him, “You don’t ever hit a little old lady!” To which she replied, “Who are you calling an old lady?” Well there has never been anything like it before or since and we remember that one every year at both Thanksgiving and Christmas. This week’s poll asked, “How old is your oldest family Christmas heirloom?” How old is your oldest family Christmas heirloom?10 to 20 years, 20 to 30, 30 to 40, 40 to 60, 60 to 80, now we’re going pre war, 80 to a 100 or even more than 100 years? Cast your vote now at ExtremeGenes.com. And just a reminder by the way, this is my little free gift to you for the holidays, well for pretty much any time you want to do it, you can download the free podcast app for iPhone and Android. Yeah it’s free in your phone’s store, just look for Extreme Genes, that’s G-E-N-E-S.
It is time once again for our family histoire news for this week from the pages of ExtremeGenes.com. Discovery.com has results of a new study on Viking DNA. But in this case, the maternal side is what they’re looking at. The conclusion is that, “Vikings may have been family men who travelled with their wives to lands.” The co-founder of the study is Erika Hagelberg at the University of Oslo in Norway. She says that this whole thing undermines the notions that Vikings were terrific seaman who would raid and pillage. Hagelberg concludes that the women would have been on the ships with their men and were very involved in the colonisation of new lands. The study finds particularly strong DNA ties between these Norse people and modern people in the islands of the North Atlantic, the Shetland Islands and Orkney in particular. Hagelberg notes that previous study suggest that the men had travelled without the women and then brought along women who were local to the areas they conquered. Amongst the cities the Vikings are believed to have settled is a place in modern day Ireland named Difelin, by the Vikings. Yes, we know it today as Dublin. There’s a whole lot more to this story and the link can be found now at ExtremeGenes.com. Well, a woman in Smyth County Virginia has discovered a funeral home book that had once belonged to her great grandfather. It was hidden behind the top of a wall in the attic of her home. The woman, Annalie Debord, who is actively involved in family history research, also found old bottles of embalming fluid, as well as a home embalming kit. What would you do with that? Well for years, local researchers have searched in vain for these records which covers some 600 funerals between September of 1920 and the end of 1937. The Smyth County Genealogical Society has just unveiled their new digital collection and Annalie has agreed to allow this rare treasure to be digitized as well.
And finally, our friends at MyHeritage.com have launched an awesome demonstration of their newly released instant discovery software. They demoed it in New York City and videoed the emotional responses, and then talked about it on Fox and Friends. You can find the link to see the whole thing at ExtremeGenes.com. And that is our family histoire news for this week. And coming up next, she’s a nationally renowned speaker known as The Legal Genealogist. She’s Judy Russell and we’ll be talking to her about ethical concerns when it comes to DNA genealogy. What are those concerns and what’s being done about them? The conversation begins in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 2 Episode 69
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Judy Russell
Fisher: Hey welcome back to Extreme Genes, family history radio, America’s Family History Show. I am Fisher, the Radio Roots Sleuth with my good friend, the Legal Genealogist, Judy Russell back on the show. Good to have you again Judy. How are you?
Judy: Very good Scott. Thanks for having me.
Fisher: I’m always excited to hear what you have to say because you give some insights to things that nobody else has. And we’ve been talking a little off air about this, about ethics issues coming up now with DNA research. You know just last week I had Doctor Scott Woodward on the show and we were talking about the history of this whole thing and how it evolved and how it developed, but with anything scientific, things come along sometimes that we hadn’t really thought much about, and it causes us to stop sometimes and give a little pause.
Judy: It really is one of those situations where it almost took us by surprise. I think how fast DNA testing has become a central and even integral part of genealogical research.
Judy: Figuring out who’s the daddy or who’s the mama has become so much easier with DNA testing then it used to be. And of course, because it has the capacity at least to bring things to light, there were some ethical considerations that we all need to at least stop and think about.
Fisher: Well you’re absolutely right. Let’s start with the beginning. For those people who have never done DNA research, you can accomplish some things with it that can’t be done in any other way. I’ll give you an example, and that is, I had an ancestor that I found and I wasn’t a hundred percent certain. I didn’t have the absolute proofs that it went back in this one branch. But then, in my DNA matches I found four people who came from the grandparent of that person through four different children other then my own. Which confirmed to me that yes, we have the right branch, we can move on with confidence.
Judy: Exactly. And things like in my family, I have my favorite ancestor, my black sheep ancestor, George Cottrell, who qualifies me for membership in the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. You have to prove that your ancestor lived in the Republic of Texas. Mine was indicted by the Republic.
Fisher: Hey! But it had left a lot of records and proofs.
Judy: He did. But the question was if you’ve got a guy who is one step ahead of the law, what if he changed his name?
Judy: That would be an easy way to stay ahead of the law. So being able to confirm with DNA testing that no, the surname goes right back to 1715 with an unbroken line, is a really important part of genealogical research. It tells me I’m not barking up the wrong tree.
Fisher: Right, makes a big difference.
Judy: So it’s very useful. It’s very helpful. But it can disclose some things you know, that some of our ancestor may have gone to great lengths to cover up. And so we need to be sensitive to the act that it can disclose things that somebody may not have wanted us to know.
Fisher: Well, and not just in the distant past either, it could be actually something fairly recent involving people who are living now.
Judy: Absolutely. Either some of it is solving adoption issues for adults who today are trying to find their own biological parents, but it can also disclose absolutely whether your father is your father. There’s that old saying in the south, “Mama’s baby, daddy’s maybe.”
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]
Judy: You want to know sometimes if there is a biological relationship to a parent or a grandparent, and DNA is going to tell the story. Families lie, DNA doesn’t.
Fisher: Yeah that’s absolutely true. But then there comes the other argument, is it really that different from any other type of research when you get back to it?
Judy: No. And I’m delighted that you made that point Scott, because I think there’s a real risk here and you see it in some of the really hyped up articles you see sometimes in the newspapers or the media or on the internet about, “Oh, DNA testing is so fraught with ethical problems.” It’s no worse than finding out from a census record that your grandmother isn’t your grandmother, she’s really your aunt type of thing.
Judy: So we’ve been finding these sorts of human frailties in genealogical research since there has been genealogical research.
Fisher: Don’t you think that DNA has got to be the greatest breakthrough that we’ve had? But not far behind in my mind Judy, digitized newspapers. And if you want to talk about secrets being unveiled, that’s the place to find them.
Judy: And the kinds of ethics and the privacy constraints that we have in today’s media simply didn’t exist a hundred years ago.
Judy: Every little thing, if you breathed in a small town it was in the social pages. So yeah, digitized newspapers are going to make disclosures, census records, all of the kinds of research we’ve ever done. So there are some new and additional ethical considerations here. We don’t want to ask somebody to take a DNA test, and hide from them the possibility that it’s going to disclose something that they’re not expecting.
Fisher: Yeah, I think that’s a concern for a lot of people. I think they go in with their eyes half closed thinking, “Oh this is going to be great. I’m going to find out where I was from in Europe or Africa or Asia or someplace like this, and I’m going to tie in with some distant cousins.” And then they start seeing names that they don’t recognize or somebody contacts them and says, “Oh by the way, I’m a half sibling to you.” And I don’t think a lot of people expect that. But some of those things do periodically happen.
Judy: They do periodically happen. It’s simply making it easier for it to happen. It isn’t making it possible for it to happen. In other words, what I mean by that is, is really your point. We’ve been discovering these secrets for generations. This is just a different way of discovering it. It’s a way of making it easier to discover it, but it isn’t anything new from an ethical perspective. It’s really being sensitive to the possibility that a family is going to have to deal with information they weren’t expecting. And there are existing standards that we can look to for guidance that will help us understand really as ethical genealogists, what we want people to do when they start getting in to any kind of genealogical research.
Fisher: That’s right. You got to make a decision or you’re going to reveal something about a great, great grandparent who nobody living has any personal knowledge of or knew personally. Is that okay versus somebody who is living recently or somebody who is living currently?
Judy: Right. And our ethical concern is the living person, you know? The dead don’t have a right to legal privacy.
Judy: They simply don’t. It’s not recognized in the law. So it really is a matter of the impact on people who are living today. How do you feel if you find out that your mom was cheating on your dad? Even if your parents are already deceased, there can be an implication for the children who are still living. And we want to be sensitive to that. The National Genealogical Society has an online statement of standards for sharing information with other people.
Fisher: Now does that include everything or just DNA?
Judy: It covers everything. It was written and published in 2000. Well before, certainly long before autosomal DNA was even dreamed of as a genealogical tool. And really just about the time that people started thinking about even Y-DNA or MT-DNA for genealogy.
Fisher: That makes sense. There are many companies out there now that are doing a great job with DNA and I guess there are some questions that have arisen about whether or not they should be warning people before they sign up of some of the downside of what they might discover. I don’t know if any of them are doing that as of yet.
Fisher: Now wait a minute Judy, are you talking about terms of service? You’re talking about that small print that we all just say “Accept” or “Not Accept?”
Judy: Yes. And that is the issue, that it is kind of locked away. You kind of have to go looking for it. Which is why I think the whole genetic genealogical community is taking the lead in trying to make it clear to everybody, don’t test if you’re not prepared to find out things about your family that you may not have known about.
Fisher: You know I do like the fact that this is covering so many different areas. I remember helping a friend once, her father had abandoned her family when she was young, she was now getting back in to her paternal line and the father was still living. And so as I found information and I found some phone numbers on some uncles and cousins who didn’t even know she existed, I made that statement to her, I said, “Now you understand once we open this door, you can never close it again. Do you want to make that call? Can you handle what might happen?” And it turned in to a very positive thing and she’s included reunions and family gatherings, and they send her Christmas cards and it worked out very, very well. But that’s not the case for everybody. I don’t think anybody goes in to this expecting something negative.
Judy: No. But the reality is that there could be with any kind of research. When you open up that census file, when you open up that birth certificate, or you look at a death record of a dearly loved member of your family and discover that they died of what we euphemistically call some loathsome disease. There’s an emotional component to genealogical research that just doesn’t exist with any kind of other research that we might ever do, and so with all of this research, all of our genealogy, we need to be sensitive and consider literally the feelings of living people.
Fisher: She’s the Legal Genealogist. She’s Judy Russell. And Judy, I think you just nailed it so well and gave a lot of people some insight today that they might not have considered in the past, and maybe save some folks some pain. So thank you so much for coming on again.
Judy: Thank you for having me.
Fisher: And coming up next, he’s researched the lines of stars like Bob Hope and Jimmy Stewart, professional genealogist George Ott joins us in five minutes to talk about their reaction to his work, and he’ll have a suggestion or two for you as you go about your research, on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 3 Episode 69
Host: Scott Fisher with guest George Ott
Fisher: We are back. Extreme Genes, family history radio, America's Family History Show. It is Fisher here with my guest George Ott. He is a professional genealogist with ProGenealogist.com. George, good to have you back on the show. How are you?
George: I'm doing great.
Fisher: And George has been a researching for the stars over the years, and I thought it would be kind of interesting to hear some of his stories. And, George, when did you start doing this, and how did you make those connections?
George: Well, I started research, I was hired as a babe out of the woods in 1975, and then got involved in the late 70s and into the 80s, that's when it started where I was involved with individuals who were doing projects for celebrities, and I started then.
Fisher: So they hired you to be part of that team?
Fisher: And who was the first one you worked on?
George: The first one I worked on was Bob Hope, he was coming to Salt Lake for a diabetes fundraiser and he was going to be at this banquet and they wanted to make a really nice genealogical presentation to him, and I was on the team of 4 people that did that project.
Fisher: He was from England, of course. Was it all English, or did he have any American branches to his family?
George: No, he came here as a child from England, and ended up, which I believe it’s been so many years, Cleveland, Ohio, who was all British, research at that time.
Fisher: Got it. Did you get to meet him?
George: Yeah. What happened was, it was in what at that time they called the haidenthaller heirloom box. We had a lot of incredible photographs and stories and genealogy in there, and he didn't show up for the dinner and we all got worried. Billy Casper was the MC.
Fisher: The golfer, right.
George: The golfer. And he was going to make the presentation. And he showed up at the end of the dinner, we all were relieved. Billy called him up and said "I want to show you this, Bob." And Bob opened the box and started going through it, and there was over a thousand people in the ballroom, and you could hear a pin drop because he just stood up there and was quietly going through the pages and there were tears running down his face, and after about almost, you know, a minute and a half is a long time.
Fisher: That is a very long time, yes.
George: [Laughs] You know. And after about a minute and a half of silence he looked at the crowd and said "I bet you've never seen Bob Hope speechless." And everybody chuckled. He says "I want you to know that I have received thousands of gifts from presidents and from ambassadors and from all different things, places and people." he says, "And they're in warehouses, a lot of that. This here means more to me than anything I've ever received from a president or a king." He says "And this is in my living room for my family." He was incredibly touched and then afterwards we got to meet him and talk to him, it was a great experience.
Fisher: Isn't that something? You know, you hear about things, you think about the rich and the famous and that they have it all, and yet you go and you show to them that there's a hole in your life you may not have even known you had, and then you present them with that which will fill that hole in and what it means to them.
George: Right, unbelievable. The sprit and the feeling in that room, there wasn't a dry eye in the place. And the feeling that family history has for people and how it touches the hearts of people us just amazing.
Fisher: Absolutely. Who else have you worked on? What happened from there?
George: Well, right after that work got out of this and there was a TV movie that was being done by Jimmy Stewart called Mr. Krueger's Christmas.
Fisher: Jimmy Stewart. Yeah, I remember that. Sure. “Mary, Dont’cha know me?” Yes, loved Jimmy.
George: [Laughs] So he came to Salt Lake to shoot, this is basically the last, I think, the last theatrical thing he did, and they had to talk him out of retirement to do Mr. Krueger's Christmas, this Christmas presentation for the LDS church. And so what happened was, on the last day of shooting they wanted to do the same exact type of presentation with the haidenthaller heirloom box, and I was on the committee, a group of 4 who each of us took a grandparent and we put this box and this presentation together, and it was presented to him at a warehouse on the last day of shooting. Some of the leaders of the LDS church were there at that time, it was in the NL Tanner and he presented him with this and it was the same reaction. He sat there and just cried. When he saw some of the photos, we found photographs he hadn't seen in probably 60 years, 50, 60 years, and it was just very touching.
Fisher: Now, back then you didn't have the benefit of the internet, how did you find those pictures?
George: You know, one of the things in genealogy we all have to remember is as you’re researching back, and I think, Fish, in your own genealogy you've done this, as you're researching back you find various cousins at the second great grand parent or the first great grandparent level and then you work down.
George: So if you find sure tell relatives, a lot of times they have photographs and stories that people don't know about.
Fisher: That's right. I've done that many times.
George: Yeah. Yeah. And so that's why everybody's so concerned about trying to research back, where a lot of times we have to stop at the great grandparent and the second great grandparent generation, research out laterally and find all the siblings and research down. Find all of your second and third cousins because you'll just never know what you come across.
Fisher: That's what got me across the pond on my name line, was finding cousins. And there's still no records out there that would say it except the family records that came through some distant cousins.
George: Right. And the other thing is for the listeners out there, I'm hoping that they're not in a situation where, over the 40 years I've been doing this, I've ran across so many people who get very selfish with their genealogy and they're saying "I'm not sharing any of this. You know how many hours and how much money I've spent? I'm not sharing this with anybody." And that is a sad commentary.
Fisher: Very much. Well, and to me it was always exciting to share what I had and which was, you know, after a while it was quite a bit. And somebody would say "Oh, I only have this one little thing." And they'd come up with an amazing photograph, or one document that leads me to something that I hadn’t ever been able to find. And to me that's worth all that I shared with them.
George: Absolutely. I want to tell you one story with Jimmy Stewart, he took the 4 of us that worked on the project back on the set, and if anybody had seen the show there's a scene where he dreams he goes back in time to the manger, and he's standing there, picks up the baby Jesus and then talks to the baby Jesus and thanks him for everything. And it's a very touching scene in the show, and he took us to the set where the manger was, and he looked at us and said "I want you to know" he goes, "That that was shot once, because I don't know if I could have done that again. He says "That scene meant so much to me and was so emotional." he says "that I don't know if I could've shot that again and that was done on one take." That was really, really touching.
Fisher: One of the classiest people ever to grace Hollywood. He would never allow the movie companies to use his status as a war hero to promote the films.
George: No. No. No.
Fisher: It says a lot about who he was.
George: And we do a lot of that research of, you know, one of the things I said to him, because I was working on one of the lines, is his Stewart ancestry, if you go each of his father, Stewart, father, grandfather, great grandfather, second great grandfather, they were all veterans.
George: And he says "You recognized that, didn't ya?" I go "Yes." He says "The reason why I went into the air force," he went into the army air force and flew bomber missions out of England.
George: He says, “The reason why I did that at the age I did, and leaving Hollywood, was because of the legacy that my father, my grandfather and my great grandfather, all of these men left and I couldn’t let them down.
Fisher: Boy, that says a lot about him, doesn’t it?
George: It sure does.
Fisher: Who else did you meet along the way, George?
George: [Laughs] Well um, there is a museum, if you’re a genealogist you have to go to the Wiesenthal Museum in Los Angeles. it’s called the “Museum of Tolerance.” And they decided and got a funding from the State of California, back about fifteen years ago to do a genealogical display. Billy Crystal agreed to be the focal point for this museum, this presentation. So, when you go in and you walk into the beginning of the show, it’s a one hour show. Billy Crystal greets you, there’s a video of him where he greets you and then you go through these rooms where you have a genealogical presentation and teaching you how important genealogy is to families and peace honors and all these different things because it’s a museum of tolerance. And I was heavily involved in doing all the research for that presentation. Some of the people who are big parts of the operation are like, Joe Torre who used to manage the Yankees, there’s stories about Carlos Santana and his ancestry, as well as Billy Crystal has a room where he talks to you. All this is done in Maya Angelou.
George: All these people, I was heavily involved in researching and so when you go into each room they’re talking to you about the importance of family history. So, it was a great, great, great experience.
Fisher: George Ott from ProGenealogist.com. It’s been great fun talking to you about some of the celebrities you’ve done the work for and how it’s touched them. And I think it really shows that it doesn’t matter how great, how famous, how wealthy, family history is the thing that brings us all together.
Fisher: Thanks for coming on.
George: Hey, take care.
Fisher: Next up, Tom Perry our Preservation Authority has tips for you on last minute family history gifts that you can create now and they will be treasured forever, without violating the dreaded copyright laws. It’s good stuff. Hear it in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 4 Episode 69
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: Hey, welcome back to Extreme Genes, family history radio, America's Family History Show. It is Fisher here with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority. Welcome back, Tom.
Tom: Good to be back.
Fisher: And last week, we were talking about gifts you can make involving family history, great preservation ideas. And now we're really down to it, but still, there's so many things you can do last minute, but this whole thing is fraught with danger, especially when it comes to copyright laws.
Tom: Exactly! One last thing you can still do, the books we've talked about in the counters, you're basically too late to do those. But you know, we talked about getting a book and reading it, that's still a great way to go. Another thing that's really even better is, do your own personal history. If you've got a journal, read out some pages. If you're one of these young high tech kids, I'm sure you've got an app for that where you can just speak into your phone and read pages out of your journal, or take the time to write stuff down, or you can get a real good book called, the Do It Yourself Autobiography. It has 201 questions and it’s written by Carl and David Marshall. It’s only like about sixteen dollars off Amazon. Get a book like that. And you still have time to get the book, and just answer the questions on a cassette recorder, a CD player, on your phone, whatever, and give this as a gift. And you still have time to do something like that. But as we talked about copyright laws, you need to be really, really careful when you're doing things like this. If you find a book that you really like that you're going to narrate, you need to remember, you need to have a CD for every book that you're going to do, a book for every CD. If you have a book that you plan on narrating and you want to give the same one to multiple children, you need to make sure you buy five of those books if you're going to give away five CDs, because the copyright laws will not allow you to take one book, narrate it, make ten CDs and send out each CD.
Tom: Exactly! You have to have one book per CD. So if you have five grandkids that you want to do the cat in the hat for, you can record it once, make four extra copies, but you need to purchase five books. So you have a little sleeve in the front where you can put the disk in and give it to each one, that way you won't run into copyright violations. Of course, if you get some book that's out of copyright, then it doesn't matter.
Fisher: And that would be before 1923.
Tom: I believe so. And you can go online and find out if something's still under copyright. You just need to be really, really careful, a lot of you have probably made home movies that you're going to send out to family. And I'm going to tell you what this law is, its copyright violation if you put music, soundtracks of current music behind your videos and send them off to people, even if you say, "Oh, on I'm giving it away for free, so it’s not a copyright violation." yes it is! You can't put together a compilation CD and hand out at your wedding and not be in copyright violation. You need to contact the Harry Fox Agency and they will give you the copyright rights to do it. We have people that come in constantly that have made, you know, these Christmas albums that they want to send out to everybody, you can't do that legally, its copyright violation. If you want to send out some Christmas albums to people, that's fine, but you need to make sure you purchase a CD for every person. You can't go and buy all these Christmas tapes, make a compilation and then send that out to everybody. That's in copyright violation.
Fisher: Yeah, and I'm sure you have a lot of people who've actually tried to do that, probably every week.
Tom: Oh yeah! We have people come in, and we had somebody come in that wanted to do a wedding compilation. We told him we wouldn't do it, and they said, well, they bought the music, it was theirs, they could do whatever they want. And they were very upset with us as they stormed out the door. I hate to have customers storm out the door, but I'm not going to break the law. So just be really, really careful. Watch yourself, so you won't get in trouble. I know just as a test case, there was a lady that was caught sharing music, and they actually took her to court and they won a multimillion dollar settlement from her, which she'll probably never be able to pay, but she'll be indentured to that for the rest of her life! So don't ever assume that it’s not going to be you. Just keep your nose clean, be the best you can, and you'll never have any problems.
Fisher: All right. More on copyright concerns as you get ready with family history gifts for the holidays, next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, family history radio and ExtremeGenes.com.
Segment 5 Episode 69
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: DANGER! DANGER! DANGER! There’s always concerns with copyright laws when it comes to family history. Hey, we're back, it is Extreme Genes, family history radio. Fisher here, Tom Perry over there, the Preservation Authority. And we were just talking about copyright laws and music. And I think that might very well be the number one area of problems that most people find themselves in.
Tom: Oh absolutely! And most people aren't trying to rip somebody off. It’s just not understanding what the laws are. And so for those of you that want to abide by the laws, but you still want to add music to your videos and your films and slideshows and such, there's a good way to go. Go on and Google, "royalty free music" And you can go and buy a CD for something like about twenty five dollars. It has incredible music on it. And you can find it from every genre. You can find pop, you can stuff that would go well with movies, with VHS tapes. You can get sound effects, all kinds of things. And now with the advent of the internet, it makes it really easy. You don't have to just buy a CD that has all this stuff on it, you can go in and preview the music and buy this one for a dollar and a quarter, this one for two dollars, this one for seventy five cents. And then once you buy it, you don't have to pay any more royalties, because you pay it once, you have a license to do whatever you want with it as long as it’s not commercial, or you can buy commercial license as well. So if you go and make your home movies and you want to put some pop sounding music in it or some old country music or something that sounds Irish if you've got some old Irish film you want to do. Once you buy it, you can make 100 copies and send them to friends and relatives and you never have to pay another dime. If you sell it, as completed format on eBay, then you need to buy a commercial license, which you can also do which is a little bit more expensive. But it’s neat because you can go on and preview the music and say, "Oh, that's what I'm looking for." download it. Go and listen to some other ones. So you find exactly what you want to finish your whole family history. And one thing I suggest, if you're doing slideshows and like, say, you've got Irish immigrants, when you're showing those pictures, play some old Irish music. When they come to the US, play some big band music. You can find stuff that's going to fit your pictures and make it more interesting and make it more enjoyable.
Fisher: You know, this is how a lot of musicians are actually making their money these days. They're not all the famous ones that we hear about, but people are online trying to make their ends meet, and so they make it available for a very reasonable price. And then you can use it as you mentioned for pretty much anything forevermore.
Tom: Right. And because the internet, there's so many people out there doing it, some of them might be professional writers. They just love to write. They have this disease to keep writing and not stopping.
Fisher: [Laughs] Disease?!
Tom: And its good stuff!
Tom: Its good stuff out there! You know, in the old days, a lot of the canned music was pretty bad, but there is absolutely some incredible stuff out there now that you can have access to, to put in your home movies, to put on with your slides, your photos and all of these things. And it’s really good quality. And then you're totally legal. Send out copies. You can put it up on Facebook. You can make YouTube movies with it, because it’s all free. But this is definitely the way to go, because its gives you some incredible opportunities. And like you say, that's how these guys make a living, so it’s a real good thing to do. We have people come into our store sometimes that just say, "Oh, I want some big band music." or "I want this or I want this." and sometimes it doesn't fit what the movie is. So that's why it’s best to kind of edit your movie, get it how you want it, and then go online, you know, Google some of this free music or inexpensive royalty free music, and THEN go put it in your film. Too many people lay down lay down the audio track and then just run video on it. And there's some slow moving scene, like maybe even a funeral, and a big bands playing, you know, on the brass.
Tom: And you know percussion is conflicting.
Fisher: That doesn't work well at all.
Tom: It does not! And we have countless people that come in and say, "Will you please take the music off these old films I had transferred?" So we kind of discourage it to add music when we're transferring it, do it later on where you can make it match a lot better. But there are incredible opportunities to do things like that with royalty free music.
Fisher: And I should mention too, you know, lot of people are not technically very savvy for putting things together like this, which makes it a great opportunity to work with younger people in the family who are. So they can benefit from the material you've got, and you can benefit from their technical skills to put this whole thing together.
Tom: So if you don't understand how to do it, I'm sure some four year old or kindergarten teacher is more than happy to help you.
Tom: Merry Christmas!
Fisher: We have reached our limit for this week! Thanks once again to my guest Judy Russell, the legal genealogist and ProGenealogists.com's George Ott, for their terrific insight. And if you missed any of it, catch the podcast starting Monday on iTunes, iHeart radio's talk channel or ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, and I'll talk to you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!