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Frequently Asked Questions about Database Donations


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Table of Contents:

  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 "for any purpose"?
  6. What if I find out how to get a book published later?
  7. Does the "Donor Agreement" mean that I am liable for something?
  8. What does "Work for Hire" mean?
  9. Are you asking me to be responsible for any potential lawsuit from the original copyright holder of the book?
  10. 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?

Yes, but a volunteer at the JewishGen's Research Division will help to guide you through the process.  In order to get started, it's important that you let us know if you have any knowledge of how to contact anyone who was initially involved with the publication of the original work, and cooperate with our efforts, if appropriate, in helping us to obtain permission for JewishGen, Inc. to use the material.  Remember that this is a collaborative effort.  JewishGen simply lacks the resources to do this all by ourselves.  Rest assured 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"?

No, the Agreement states that the donation is "NON-EXCLUSIVE".  This means that you retain all rights that you may 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.  Presumably you have already invested considerable time and/or money into obtaining or preparing the database / compilation / translation / transliteration.  Either you wish to keep this work to yourself or you wish to share it.  It you wish to share it, JewishGen will help at no additional cost to you.



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

JewishGen, Inc. has approved a list of procedures which we feel constitute a valid concerted effort to locate these entities.  All of these procedures will be documented.  JewishGen has agreed to host the database on their website as long as all of these procedures have been followed and documented.  The process is a collaborative one, between yourself and volunteers.



5. Why does the "Donor Agreement" talk about more than just publishing the data on the internet?  Why does it include the words "for any purpose"?

We have a vision of sharing the 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 JewishGen 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 material were available both on the internet and also via other methods to share with family members who don't have computers?  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 technological tools.  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 mediums in which the material may be published.



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

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



7. Does the "Donor Agreement" mean that I am liable for something?

If you translated/compiled 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/compilation from someone else we need to be sure that the translator/compiler is not going to object to your allowing JewishGen to publish it.  You can protect yourself by asking your translator/compiler(s) to sign a WORK FOR HIRE AGREEMENT.  A sample form is attached below for your use.  In certain situations, the translation/compilation was obtained many years ago, or was created by a relative who may or may not be living.  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/compiler 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/compiler 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/compiler is clear.  Maybe you think you own a translation/compilation that you paid for, but the translator/compiler may also believe that he/she owns it.  Why not play it safe and ask your translator/compiler to sign a Work for Hire Agreement?  If you have used a different form, please just send us a copy for our files.



8. What does "Work for Hire" mean?

It is a legal term that means that you merely hired the translator / compiler to do the work of translating/compiling and/or transliterating and that the resulting material is your own.  Absent such a contract, a translator/compiler could claim that there was an understanding between you and your translator/compiler that the translator/compiler owned the work contracted for.  This contract, like all contracts, is intended just to document your actual understanding, for the record.



9. 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 translation / compilation and/or transliteration that you're providing.  JewishGen, Inc. and the donor will work together to determine whether we need to obtain copyright permission for the original material, and, if so, we will make sure we have followed all appropriate steps.



10. 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.



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Author: Susannah Juni, with assistance from Joyce Field, Martin Kessel, Warren Blatt and Susan King.
Version 1.1, Original January 17, 1998.   Rev 8/2001 WSB
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