Tuesday, December 1, 2009

FindAGrave Rant

OK, I just need to rant about something that has been bothering me on FindAGrave. I've been photographing tombstones at a local cemetery and posting them on FindAGrave. I've started to notice that some of the more recent tombstones that I've photographed already have a memorial at FindAGrave. At first, I figured that someone must be reading the obituaries everyday and posting the memorials at FindAGrave based upon the burial location mentioned in the obituary. However, I then started to notice that many of these memorials had photos of the deceased person. I thought this was odd because it seemed that the people posting the memorials did not have any family connections to the photographed person, based on the fact that the same two people have several memorials for the same cemetery for several different names that do not seem to be connected to one another in any way. For this particular cemetery, there is a funeral home right next door that is connected to the cemetery. Yesterday I decided to visit the funeral home website. After reading some of the obits on the website, it has become apparent to me that the two people in my area have been stealing pictures and the obituaries from the funeral home's website for people who aren't even their family members and posting them on FindAGrave!

I don't know if the funeral home or the family members have the copyright of the pictures, but I know that FindAGrave specifically states that you should not take a photo from another website. I looked into reporting this, but it seems that the only way to report the theft is if you own the copyright yourself. Since none of these memorials are for my family members nor do I own the funeral home, I'm not sure if I can report it or not. I guess that these people may have permission from the funeral home to do this, but I seriously doubt it.

My other issue is this: If you want to document a cemetery, get your butt out there and take pictures or transcribe tombstones yourself! Quit sitting at your computer and stealing the funeral home's photos and obituaries from their website! I have an issue in general with people combing through obituaries everyday and then posting memorials on FindAGrave for strangers, even if they aren't stealing pictures or obits. I don't have a problem with people actually taking pictures of strangers' graves or transcribing strangers' graves and posting them on FindAGrave, or with people posting memorials for their own relatives or other research interests on FindAGrave after reading an obituary. Maybe this is just my annoyance with armchair genealogists. I guess what really bothers me too is that several of the strangers' memorials have men's last names listed as maiden names or some other error. If you are going to be lazy, at least get it right. Sheesh!

Maybe I am being too harsh, but I am thoroughly annoyed. Please feel free to comment with your opinions.


  1. a shot in the dark...but do you think the funeral homes may be offering this to relatives of the deceased as a "service"? an eternal virtual memorial? I'm sure many grieving families would thoughtlessly check this box and pay $99 for it. And funeral homes do like the dollar.

  2. Hmm...that's a good theory. But considering that FindAGrave is a non-profit group, I'm sure they would be very upset if that were the truth. I doubt the funeral home could profit off of a non-profit legally, but I could be wrong.

  3. I agree with you Jennifer about the fact that people should not be taking photos from other websites without the permission of family members.
    In the case of family memorial photos that I've posted - even of memorial cards - out of respect I checked with other family members to see that everyone was o.k. with this.
    My opinion is that the fact (date of death and such) are public but personal things like a picture should be under the control of the family.
    In any case, it's food for thought. Thanks for bringing it up.
    Evelyn in Montreal