Permission to transcribe?

If you are planning to transcribe from anything other than images from the FreeREG Image Server, then you need to be aware of what you can and can't use as a source.

Transcribing on site

Any source must be one where the Transcriber has permission to transcribe. This is not the same thing as copyright. For example, when you go into a church, ask the Vicar can I transcribe and she or he says yes, you have permission. (We have a letter for incumbents that you can send/take to them which explains why we transcribe, and how we can help the church, if you want to approach a church directly.)

Similarly, if you go into a record office, and look at a register (or a surrogate such as a film or fiche), you don’t need to ask permission to transcribe.

Transcribing from images

But, if you take photos in a Record Office, or copy from fiche to a data stick, so that you can transcribe at home, the Record Office will often get you to sign to say that you will only use the image for personal use or private research — this does not give you permission to transcribe. We will be writing to all the Record Offices once the Transcribers’ Agreement is in place, to see if we can get blanket permission from each RO for our transcribers to take photos, etc., then transcribe from those.

If the images are behind a paywall, or you need to register to look at images for free, the contract you have signed probably means you cannot transcribe from these images. Ancestry, Find My Past and FamilySearch all prohibit you from sharing from their site, and these should not be used as transcription sources. After the Transcribers’ Agreement is in place, we will be approaching them (and any other site we are told would be useful) to see if we can negotiate access.

If transcribing from a published book, please check the copyright status of the book before transcribing: if you cannot positively say that the author died more than 70 years ago, please let us know as we may be able to confirm you have permission.

Copyright only exists in a small proportion of all the sources being included in FreeREG. For example, the Church of England has said there is no copyright in its registers. If in doubt, please ask — we can usually confirm that there is no copyright, or help with contacting copyright owners and obtaining the appropriate licence if copyright does exist.