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The Difference Between Copyrighted Genealogy and Public Domain Genealogy

When conducting a genealogy search, there are several different types of genealogy records you will find – everything from free genealogy records to those which carry a very high cost with them.  This article will provide you with the basics on paid-for versus free genealogy records in order to help you determine which option is best for you and your genealogy search.

Free Genealogy Records:  Also known as public domain genealogy records, these records are available free of cost to everyone. While finding these records might be difficult at points, the information is available to anyone who is willing to do the research to locate the records.

Fees for Free Genealogy Records:  While many of the free genealogy records are truly free, you will sometimes have to pay an administrative cost for locating the record (depending on how you access it). For example, many states charge small fees for copies of birth certificates, marriage licenses, and death certificates.

Membership in Genealogy Search Organizations:  In order to help you locate both paid-for and free genealogy records, many organizations and websites charge membership fees in exchange for access to extensive databases or personal assistance with your genealogy search.

Copyrighted Genealogy Records:  Some genealogy records are not free to use – they are copyrighted by the author.  If you do want to reproduce them, often you will need to pay royalties or other high fees to the author to compensate for using their original work.