Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
Translations and Donations

  1. Is someone going to make a profit from my donation?
  2. Am I responsible for getting permission from the copyright holder of the original material?
  3. Does my donation to JewishGen prevent me from being able to publish the same material myself or through other means? Am I giving up something by signing the “Donor Agreement”?
  4. What if we never find the original copyright holder of the book, say if they are deceased or otherwise not found?
  5. Why does the “Donor Agreement” talk about more than just publishing the data on the internet? Why does it include the words “in any manner desired”?
  6. Can't I make some money if I don't allow JewishGen to use my translation?
  7. What if I find out how to get a book published later?
  8. Does the “Donor Agreement” mean that I am liable for something?
  9. What does “Work for Hire” mean?
  10. Are you asking me to be responsible for any potential lawsuit from the original copyright holder of the book?
  11. Will I get a U.S. income tax deduction for this donation?


1. Is someone going to make a profit from my donation?

No; JewishGen, Inc. is a not-for-profit public service organization, and as such it is governed by the restrictions of Section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue code. Therefore, no individual will profit from any activity of JewishGen, Inc. and all of JewishGen's activities must further its non-profit educational goals.

2. Am I responsible for getting permission from the copyright holder of the original material?

The Yizkor Book Translations Manager will work with you through the process. In order to get started, it's important that you provide us with information of any person to contact who was initially involved with the publication of the original book, and help us to obtain permission for JewishGen, Inc. to use the material. The packet of information on the Yizkor Book Project contains a sample Permissions Letter to be sent to the copyright holder.

Remember that this is a collaborative effort. The Project simply lacks the resources to do this totally on our own. It is our policy that JewishGen will not post the material on the Web until appropriate steps have been completed.

3. Does my donation to JewishGen prevent me from being able to publish the same material myself or through other means? Am I giving up something by signing the ”Donor Agreement“?

1) If you finance the translation directly, on your own or along with others, or if you have translated the yizkor material on your own, then the Agreement states that the donation is on a “NON-EXCLUSIVE IRREVOCABLE PERPETUAL basis.” This means that you retain all rights that you now have to use the material in any way that you see fit at any time. The Agreement only gives JewishGen, Inc. the right to use it, too. Both you and JewishGen can use the material, even simultaneously. Your donation in a non-exclusive irrevocable perpetual basis is in lieu of monetary payment for the work required on the part of JewishGen to insure that your translation is freely accessible to all researchers desiring access. Presumably you have already invested considerable time and/or money into obtaining or preparing the translation and/or a transliteration. Either you wish to keep this work to yourself or you wish to share it. If you wish to share it, JewishGen will help at no additional cost to you.

2) If, however, the funds to pay for the translation are donated directly to JewishGen for this purpose and are disbursed by JewishGen, then JewishGen owns the EXCLUSIVE right to this material.


4. What if we never find the original copyright holder of the book, say if they are deceased or otherwise not found?

JewishGen, Inc. has approved procedures which we believe constitute a valid concerted effort to locate these entities. JewishGen has agreed to host the translations on its web site as long as our procedures have been followed and documented. Again, the process is a collaborative one, between yourself and the Yizkor Book Project's staff.


5. Why does the “Donor Agreement” talk about more than just publishing the data on the internet? Why does it include the words in any manner desired”?

We have a vision of sharing the yizkor book material so that large numbers of people can benefit from their cultural heritage. We are not the only ones with this vision. From time to time, other organizations or individuals may surface who share our goals. By way of example only, another not-for-profit organization may express an interest in working together with the Project to help make the material available to even more people in additional forms, not just on the Internet. For example, wouldn't it be wonderful if the yizkor material were available both on the internet and also via other methods to share with family members who don't have computers, perhaps even in conjunction with the original text?

We are asking for permission to exercise our discretion to use the material for purposes that JewishGen determines are worthy. Technology is changing rapidly. JewishGen intends to supply its users with information at the cutting edge of technology. If we limit JewishGen's ability to publish the material, a new technology may arise that would require JewishGen to return to each person who granted publishing rights so that publication in the new medium could occur. As you can imagine, that would be a monumental task not only from attempting to contact people who have moved or died but from an organizational standpoint. That could result in information being unavailable in the future. With that in mind, if you continue to feel strongly about limiting JewishGen's ability to publish the material, we can modify the agreement to specifically identify the media in which the material may be published.

6. Can't I make some money if I don't allow JewishGen to use my translation?

Good luck. With rare exceptions, book publishers have been unwilling to invest the money that it takes to publish reprints of yizkor books, either in translation or in their original form. If your town of interest is a large one, or is historically significant to a large number of people, you might be able to convince a publisher to print the book, most likely with some large financial investment of your own. Even in such a case, many publishers feel that the likelihood of reaching profits is slim. If you want to, you may wish to pursue this possibility first, and then come back to us later if you decide not to publish it in book form.

Meanwhile, you might wish to donate merely the translation of the Structural Elements (the table of contents, index, names lists, photo captions). If you did eventually publish the entire translated book in print, the Web posting of the Structural Elements could boost your sales. You could ask the Project to post a hyperlink on the translation site to refer readers to where they could buy a copy of the printed book, from you or from your publisher. In any case, many of us feel that this type of material should not be used commercially, out of respect for the precious lives honored in these books. The goals and plans of JewishGen and the Project do not include any profit-making activities whatsoever. Our plan is merely to make the information available to the public.

7. What if I find out how to get a book published later?

No problem. Since JewishGen's rights are non-exclusive if you paid for the translation, you may publish this material in any form at any time.


8. Does the “Donor Agreement” mean that I am liable for something?

If you translated and/or transliterated the material yourself, the answer is no. The Agreement just means that you are allowing JewishGen to use it. If you obtained the translation from someone else we do need to be sure that the translator is not going to object to your allowing JewishGen to publish it. You can protect yourself by asking your translator to sign a Work for Hire agreement*. A sample form for your use appears in the section on forms. Or if you have used a different form, please just send us a copy for our files.

In certain situations, the translation was obtained many years ago, and the translator may no longer be living, or may not be locatable. Or, in some cases, the translator's name may not even be mentioned in the translation. In those special circumstances (only) where it is not practicable for you to have a Work for Hire Agreement signed, we do need you to certify in the Donor Agreement that you will be responsible if the translator who did the work ever tries to sue JewishGen. JewishGen, Inc., as a nonprofit organization, simply cannot afford the costs of defending itself against lawsuits. If your translator suddenly sues JewishGen for publishing the material, the costs of defending such a suit could effectively cripple or destroy the organization. You should be sure that your understanding with your translator is clear. Maybe you think you own a translation that you paid for, but the translator may also believe that he/she owns it. Why not play it safe and ask your translator to sign a Work for Hire Agreement.

9. What does “Work for Hire” mean?

It is a legal term meaning that you hired the translator to do the work of translating and that the resulting translated material is your own. Absent such a contract, a translator could claim that there was an understanding between you and him/her that the translator owned the translation. This contract, like all contracts, is intended just to document your actual understanding, for the record.

10. Are you asking me to be responsible for any potential lawsuit from the original copyright holder of the book?

No. We are only asking you to be responsible for the English translation and/or transliteration that you're providing. The Yizkor Book Project and the donor will work together to determine whether we need to obtain copyright permission for the original book, and, if so, we will make sure we have followed all appropriate steps.

11. Will I get a U.S. income tax deduction for this donation?

JewishGen, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. You will receive a receipt for the donation of the material to JewishGen. Your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Please consult your tax advisor.


* The Work for Hire agreement will no longer be publicly available at this site. It can now be initiated only by a JewishGen Vice President. Lance Ackerfeld, JewishGen Yizkor Book Project Manager , will handle the distribution of this agreement when required by a fundraising project. Contact him at Lance Ackerfeld. return


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Yizkor Book Project Manager, Lance Ackerfeld

Copyright ©1999-2014 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 4 Apr 2014 by LA