There are dozens of messages floating around the Internet claiming that the FindAGrave.com web site (a product owned by Ancestry.com) has been hacked and that all the information from the FindAGrave.com site appears on another web site, https://peoplelegacy.com.
It appears that the site at https://peoplelegacy.com republished all the information in violation of copyright laws. In fact, the second web site claims THEY own all the copyrights on all the images contributed by genealogists to Find-A-Grave, including some pictures that I uploaded to Find-A-Grave some time ago. Even worse, my pictures now have a “PeopleLegacy.com” watermark on every one of the images! That strikes me as a rather brazen claim. Those are pictures I took and I don’t recall signing a copyright release to PeopleLegacy.com.
Another claim on PeopleLegacy states “All data offered through PeopleLegacy.com is derived from public sources” which seems questionable.
Let’s set the record straight:
Actually, the Find-A-Grave web site wasn’t exactly “hacked.” Everything on Find-A-Grave is publicly visible anyway so anyone can copy anything or even everything from the site. No secret hacking is required. You could do the same today. In fact, it is easy to do so whether that is legal to do so or not.
One way to copy everything on a web site way is to obtain a software program that is designed to do just that. For instance, SiteSucker at https://ricks-apps.com/osx/sitesucker/index.html is one of those programs although I am sure there are others. I wrote about SiteSucker in this newsletter several years ago. You can see my article at: https://blog.eogn.com/2014/05/03/sitesucker-automatically-downloads-complete-web-sites/.
I use SiteSucker to make backups of my own web site once a month. It works well.
I don’t know if the people who have apparently taken all the information from Find-A-Grave used SiteSucker or some other tool as they have several such tools to choose from. You could do the same. I also suspect this is not the first time someone has copied everything from Find-A-Grave although it is possible that this is the first time anyone was brave enough or stupid enough to republish all of it on the web.
Is it a copyright violation? Possibly. I am not an attorney so I will leave that question to Ancestry.com’s attorneys to figure out.
I will say that I would hate to be the owner of PeopleLegacy.com right now, waiting for a knock on the door by someone who wants to serve me with papers concerning a lawsuit.