Explanation of Liability Issues

Web server providers, as well as other interested individuals, have been stymied for years, reluctant to publish yizkor book translations, or any other previously published material, for fear of expensive lawsuits related to copyright issues. Obviously, our objectives are consistent with those of the original publishers of these books: i.e., to keep alive the memories of our vanished Jewish communities. However, this does not change 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.

  1. Original Material:

    The original authors, publisher and/or editor(s) may retain a legal copyright for the original material. The staff at JewishGen, Inc.'s Yizkor Book Project has 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 in violation of appliable copyright law, which is generally interpreted to mean for any purpose other than one's own private use. 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. If you have any leads as to how or where to contact the people who originally created the book, we would appreciate your providing these to us. If not, we have other resources to suggest for checking. You will need to work together with our Project's staff to complete this important step. Please keep in mind that our resources (human and financial) are limited, but we can help significantly to guide you through the process.

    We can immediately publish translations of Structural Elements (tables of contents, indices, name lists, and picture captions) even before we have completed the permission process. Also, while you are working to complete a large translation project, we can go ahead and publish these Structural Elements immediately. Please start now by sending in your material with the appropriate agreement, so that we place the Structural Elements on the Web without delay. These forms should be accompanied by a diskette of your translation or the material can be electronically transmitted to our Translation Manager .

  2. Translation:

    It is possible to copyright a translation of a work separately from the copyright of the original document in its original language. The Donor Agreement states that the person donating the translation to us is entitled to donate that material. When a translation 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, 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, is still owned by the original copyright holder, which is why the Project has a lengthy procedure to go through before we can publish more than the Structural Elements on the web, regardless of the Donor Agreement.

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Yizkor Book Project Manager, Lance Ackerfeld

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Updated 4 Apr 2014 by LA