Thursday 2 August 2012

Confusion over US FindmyPast changes (now resolved)

FindmyPast in the US ( has changed its Terms and Conditions - again - by the looks of it, apparently for the second time in 24 hours.

Incredibly, the revised and progressive useage terms for professional genealogists which were quoted in my previous blog post at have now been changed once more, seemingly in line with the those of the UK site, which were not as favourable. I thought I had misread some new T&Cs when I posted an update on this subsequently, but in fact the US site has actually changed its T&Cs twice in a day.

Last night the US site first changed its terms to state the following, which was widely distributed on both the site and the US based Association of Professional Genealogists ( discussion forum:

You can use the website for your own personal or professional use, e.g., to research your own family history or as a professional genealogist to perform research for you or others. This is subject to our rights to cancel your account for misuse to be determined at our sole discretion. For the purposes of these terms and conditions, a professional genealogist is defined as a sole proprietorship conducting research for clients. We reserve the right to determine if you are a professional genealogist.

The site seemed to imply that professionals could gain access via a subscription. Also see The Legal Genealogist blog post at On the back of this questions were raised about the equivalent situation on the UK site, which subsequently clarified its position - see

The US site now seems to have taken a backward step, as the following is now in place on the site instead:

What you can use the service for:

You can only use the website for your own personal non-commercial use e.g. to research your own family history. You can also help out other people with their family history by telling them about records available on the website and how and where they can be found. If you are using a subscription, you may not provide anyone with copies of any records (either an original image of the record or the information on the results page), even if you provide them for free.

Buy credits to carry out research for others:

If you wish to carry out research for other people (even for free), you must purchase PayAsYouGo credits to view records. You may not carry out research for others (even for free) if you are a subscriber.

This is based on the wording on the British site.

As with the UK site previously, these US terms are contradictory - You can only use the website for your own personal non-commercial use versus If you wish to carry out research for other people (even for free), you must purchase PayAsYouGo credits. The UK site has at least redressed this apparent inconsistency.

So which is better for a professional genie - a subscription to FindmyPast US versus one to FindmyPast UK?  Neither by the looks of it - the answer may well be a sub for Ancestry...!

More developments when I get them...

UPDATE:  OK, you know the song the Hokey Cokey?? Good, bear it in mind...!!! has now reinstated the terms allowing professional use for its site which it placed on its site yesterday, then changed this morning, and has now placed in again...!

I think at this point I may have to signal defeat - if you are planning to sign up to the American FindmyPast site, at the time of THIS update, you can now do so via a subscription, something the UK site does not offer. The key thing is to check on the terms and conditions at

Bottom line - this is once again a cheaper option for UK based genealogists.

(With thanks to Caroline Gurney)

UPDATE 4.20pm 2nd Aug: Josh Taylor from is describing the shenanigans earlier as being due to a "browser glitch", which is now sorted. In other words, there were no actual changes made, but a technical fault redisplayed the original T&Cs. Hopefully this is it sorted now!

(With thanks to Judy Russell via


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