Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Candid Camera

An interesting conversation about ethics came up after the 2016 International Genetic Genealogy Conference videos had been released (I HIGHLY recommend these). I was watching one of Blaine Bettinger’s lectures and I noticed a person in the audience taking photos of Blaine’s PowerPoint slides. I posted about this on my Facebook wall and several genealogists weighed in including a couple of the presenters from this conference as well as some of the participants. The consensus was that the person was in the wrong but not only because the slides are under copyright but also because holding up a cell phone or camera to take pictures can be distracting to others. A couple of people said that it was okay if you obtained the presenter’s permission up front. As a presenter myself I would not allow this because of the distraction. I might make the slides available depending on what topic the lecture was on. If this was a new lecture and I planned to give the talk to other groups I probably would not release the slides. Some presenters do make their slides available online or as a handout but this is the presenter’s choice and not an obligation. Someone stated that an announcement should be made at the beginning of the conference explaining that the slides are copyrighted and no photos are allowed so that everyone is on the same page. I think this is a good idea because there are a lot of people that are new to genealogy and new to conferences that might not know this.

Another point was brought up during the conversation by one of the participants. Researchers from other countries may have different ethical (and legal) standards than in the United States. We need to take this into consideration when working with researchers in other parts of the world. I work with German genealogists all the time and the one thing that stands out is that they are a much more private people. Vital records are guarded and can only be released after a specific number of years. This is true for the entire country. Here in the States every state (and sometimes county) has their own set of rules, some stringent, some lax. If I told my friends in Germany that I have access to contemporary birth indexes in some states I think they would be taken aback. This is the same reason that DNA isn’t catching on there as fast as I would like.

Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis

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