Ancestry fixes TOS error
Quietly and without fanfare, in its rollout of new and updated terms of service, Ancestry killed the professional researcher.
It didn’t mean to.
It was a mistake.
So… quietly and without fanfare … in an update of even newer and more updated terms of service, Ancestry brought the professional researcher back to life.
The problem arose back when, in December, Ancestry updated its terms and conditions.1
You remember what those are, right? They’re the limits somebody who owns something you want to see or copy or use puts on whether or not he’ll let you see or copy or use it. These are limits that are different from copyright protection, since the law says what is and isn’t copyrighted and you can own a thing without owning the copyright. So this isn’t copyright law; it’s contract law — you and whoever owns the thing you want to see or copy or use reach a deal.
You might wonder, if these are rules, how the whole thing can be considered a contract. Nobody gave us a choice about the rules when we subscribed to Ancestry.com, did they?
So it’s important that we review these terms every time we sign up for a website and again every time they change.
Because sometimes when they change, the change is most decidedly not a good one.
She was right: the language before the change had allowed professional use by saying “You may access the Websites only personally with an individual browser and use the Content only for personal or professional family history research, and download Content only as search results relevant to that research or where expressly permitted by Ancestry.”4
The changed language only provided, “You may use and download the Ancestry Content only as necessary for your personal use of the Services.”5
Never fear, professionals.
It wasn’t intentional.
It was simply an oversight.
And the fix is in.
Access those terms and conditions now and the corrected language is there: “You may use the Ancestry Content only as necessary for your personal use of the Services or your professional family history research, and download the Ancestry Content only as search results relevant to that research or where expressly permitted by Ancestry.”6
- See Judy G. Russell, “Ancestry updates terms of services
,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 15 Dec 2017 (http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : accessed 31 Jan 2018). ↩
- See Jill Morelli, comment to “Ancestry updates terms of services
,” posted 15 Dec 2017. ↩
- Terms & Conditions, Ancestry.com, updated 17 Mar 2015 (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 14 Dec 2017, via Wayback Machine). ↩
- Terms & Conditions, Ancestry.com, updated 14 Dec 2017 (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 14 Dec 2017.) ↩
- Terms & Conditions, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 31 Jan 2018) (emphasis added). ↩