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Letter of Introduction

Thank you for your interest in providing database material to publish on the JewishGen website.  We would appreciate it if you would please take the time to read the following carefully and let us know of any questions, so that we can help you to make this important material accessible to others.  Please also read the "Database Donor Frequently Asked Questions" and Database Contribution Guidelines.

The mission of JewishGen, Inc. is to help make material of interest to those researching their Jewish heritage available to the world.  For more information on JewishGen, see our homepage and the JewishGen FactSheet.

One of the many services of JewishGen is to collect databases and to publish them in a searchable format on the internet.  JewishGen, Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization which is staffed primarily by volunteers.  The following policy is designed to ensure JewishGen's ability to publish this material.  In order to put your database on the internet, we will need you to sign and return two copies, with original signatures, of the attached "Donor Agreement," linked below.  This Agreement is very short, and only contains two simple statements.  Nonetheless, you may have some questions.  This letter and the FAQs are intended to answer those questions.

First, a few words of explanation: Web server providers, as well as other interested individuals, must be extremely careful in adhering to international copyright law.  JewishGen's policy is to ensure that all material housed on its web site does indeed comply and all parties have done their due diligence to be aware of the information contained in the database and to verify that all those involved in the submitted database are in agreement with your good intentions.  Data comes in all forms: those created from public domain materials and those which are extracted from other previously published material.  We must all remain cognizant of the laws in which we are governed and the possibility within our litigious society for someone to challenge JewishGen's right to publish this material on the Web.  Following is a layperson's summary of the legal issues involved.

There are two separate liability issues:

  1. ORIGINAL MATERIAL: The original author(s), publisher and/or editor(s) may retain a legal copyright for the original material.  The volunteers at JewishGen have a set of procedures that they will follow, some with your assistance and cooperation, in order to address this issue.  In a nutshell, our policies and procedures include a requirement that JewishGen, Inc. will post a notice on the web site notifying readers that the copyright may be retained by someone else, so that visitors to the site are aware that the material may not be copied for any commercial or business purpose.  Most importantly, our policies include many steps to try to locate the original copyright holder(s) to obtain certain documentation from them to publish the material, as described in the FAQ.  That's where we ask for your help, should you have any leads as to how or where to contact the people who created the original work.  If not, we have other resources to suggest for checking.  You will need to work together with JewishGen volunteers to complete this important step.  Please keep in mind that JewishGen's resources (human and financial) are limited, but we can help significantly to guide you through the process.

  2. TRANSLATION / COMPILATION: It is possible to copyright a translation/compilation of a work separately from the copyright in the source document in its original language.  The Translation/Compilation Agreement states that the person donating the translation/compilation to us is entitled to donate that material.  When a translation/compilation is created, it is technically a new body of work and it is possible that someone could claim that they own the rights to the translation/compilation, even though they may not be able to do much with that new material without getting permission from the owner of the original material.  The copyright to the original material, which is in some sense included in the translation/compilation, is still owned by the original copyright holder, which is why JewishGen has a procedure to go through before we can publish on the web, regardless of the Donor Agreement.

Please read the Database Donor FAQ and Database Contribution Guidelines for more information.

Revised Aug, 2001
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