Tuesday 10 April 2018

New RCBL guidelines for copying/transcribing Church of Ireland parish records and headstone inscriptions

In response to a number of instances where Church of Ireland parish records have been copied and published without the permission and copyright approval of the appropriate authorities, the Representative Church Body Library has issued new guidelines for the safe custody and copyright of Church of Ireland parish registers and memorials in burial grounds.

The four-page document, published by the RCBL's Library and Archives Committee, can be downloaded below. While the guidelines are designed primarily for the direction of clergy and parish personnel, the RCBL also wants to raise awareness more generally about copyright restrictions on parish registers and inscriptions on memorials in Church of Ireland burial grounds.

It is an important document for all family historians to read, as many may not be aware of the extent of restrictions in place, but should also be required reading for transcribers, headstone inscription hunters, historians and data gatherers (commercial or otherwise).

Family historians and transcribers will be able to continue to transcribe or copy out records by hand but those transcriptions must not be published without permission from the copyright holder; as the guidelines make clear, official copyright permission must come from the legal holder (and cannot be given by local clergy).

The collection of inscriptions and images of headstones is also subject to rules, and I would hazard a guess that most family historians are unaware of their restrictive nature, particularly with regard to uploading photos and transcribed inscriptions online.

You can download the Guidelines here.