Friday 30 March 2012

IGRS responds to 'backward step' by RootsIreland

The Irish Genealogical Research Society has issued the following response to RootsIreland's new fee structure which has withdrawn the free index search facility (see blogpost):

A backward step

Recently, much has changed for the better in Irish genealogy, what with records coming online for free, or being made more generally accessible.

But the recent introduction by the Irish Family History Foundation (through its website of charges to view its online indexes to records has come as a complete shock.

It appears that mixed messages are now emanating from Ireland! One of the most used and beneficial websites, sponsored by the Irish government’s department for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs - - offers free access to parish register indexes and records from Dublin, Cork, Kerry and Carlow.

The site is a joy to use, and for most entries links are provided to digital images of the original record, enabling verification of data.

Meanwhile, the IFHF does not provide links to the original records and charges have now been put in place to view the indexes, and that’s before paying to view the transcription of the record itself. Contrasted with the government website, this appears a poor bargain by comparison.

It is a worthwhile exercise to read RootsIreland's extremely restrictive Terms and Conditions. The tone is hectoring and threatening – and it begs the question of who on earth advised them on their public relations policy?

Quite alarmingly, the terms determine “your rights, responsibilities and benefits” but I think most researchers will be alarmed to read that “you may only use and its contents for your own personal non-commercial use... you cannot provide third parties with details of any records that you have paid to view, even if you provide them for free (so don’t pass on any family history records to your family)... if you do not agree with any of the Terms and Conditions do not use the site”...threats of disconnection and possible prosecution follow.

Given the number of complaints already received by the IGRS, the IFHF clearly needs to seriously re-think this model of negativity and re-instate the free viewing of the indexes without delay!