Thursday, 2 August 2012

US FindmyPast site allows professional use

If you have been worried about not being able to use the UK's FindmyPast website for professional genealogy research, there is a solution - forget about it and switch to the US site.

The UK FindmyPast site at specifies the following in its terms and conditions:

You can only use the website for your own personal non-commercial use, e.g., to research your own family history. We are also happy for you to 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, including showing them anything within our free search results. However, you must not provide them with copies of any of the records (either an original image of the record or the information on the results page), even if you provide them for free.

Compare this with the equivalent from Ancestry (

You may access the Website only personally with an individual browser (bots, crawlers, spiders, scraping and other automatic access tools are prohibited), use graphics, information, data, editorial and any other content displayed on or accessible through the Website (“Content”) only for personal or professional family history research, and download Content only as search results relevant to that research.

(NB: I've highlighted the part for genealogists)

Well now the new FindmyPast baby in the US,, has changed its terms and conditions to state the following:

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.

Quite how the US site intends to determine how its international users are professional genealogists is perhaps another story - but if you do work as a professional genealogist, it is worth noting that the US site is still offering its new Pioneer subscription, with access to records from all four FindmyPast sites in the US, the UK, Ireland and Australasia, for approximately £37 a year's subscription - a 75% discount on the intended rate once the promotion has ended.

It's worth pointing out that FindmyPast's UK based sister company, ScotlandsPeople (, also allows professional use, as shown in its terms and conditions:

You acknowledge and agree that the material and content contained within the Website is made available for either your personal use or use for genealogical research for commercial purposes and that you may (if necessary to make a Purchase) download such material and content on to only one computer hard drive for such purpose.

Down under, still offers similar terms and conditions to the UK site, so there's no professional use. The same is also currently true of the Irish site at

Will the other FindmyPast sites continue to prevent professional genealogists from using their sites - or follow the lead of the new kid on the block?

Watch this space!

(With thanks to Caroline Gurney on the UK Professional Researchers in Genealogy, Family & Local History forum on LinkedIn)

UPDATE 9.50am 2nd Aug: The UK FindmyPast has made the following comment in response to a tweet on this story via @findmypast:

Prof genealogists are welcome to use our site using corporate discount credit packages -

That's not quite what the terms and conditions say, so there are definitely mixed messages on this front from FMP in the UK. If all content from the UK, Ireland and Australasia is being made available on the US site, then any conditions of access to that material in the UK, e.g. if there are copyright or licensing issues etc, which somehow apply to professional genealogists rather than amateur genealogists, must surely be the same as if it is accessed in the US? It's the same material.

UPDATE: 10.40 2nd Aug:  The UK based FindmyPast site ( has now clarified its terms and conditions, by confirming that professional genealogists can use the UK site via corporate credits packages. The following is the new clause:

Use a Corporate package to carry out research for others: If you use your subscription to carry out research for other people (even for free), we reserve the option to stop you using the website and charge you retrospectively at £0.12 per credit for the records you have viewed. If you want to use the website for commercial purposes, you must buy a Corporate package.

What they are saying is that you cannot use a personal subscription for professional genealogical use, but must instead purchase credits through a Corporate Package, available at Although there is no specific mention of professional genealogists as such, see FindmyPast's earlier tweet above.

The UK site still says the following in the preceding clause however:  You can only use the website for your own personal non-commercial use e.g., to research your own family history.

Clearly FindmyPast is wanting professionals to use the site, but I'd humbly suggest they have a good look through all their T&Cs to prevent conflicts such as this. If they are offering professional access through credits purchases, then it looks to me as if what they really mean is  You can only use a personal subscription for your own personal non-commercial use... etc.

UPDATE: 11am 2nd Aug:  It is clear that FMP UK is happy for people to use the site for professional purposes. Both the US and UK sites are both essentially offering the same deal now - though there is still one big difference...! The PayAsYouGo credit packages from the US site have a low end purchase tier of $13.95 for 100 credits. The UK corporate credits packages have a low end purchase tier of £120 for 1500 credits!

UPDATE: 11.05 2nd Aug - and one final change from FMP UK: They have now reworded the paragraph I picked up on earlier to say "You can only use the website for your own personal non-commercial use e.g., to research your own family history."

The full revised terms and conditions on the UK site are available at

(With thanks to FindmyPast)


Check out my Scotland's Greatest Story research service
New book: It's Perthshire 1866 - there's been a murder... (from June 12th 2012)


  1. Am I naive or ... why on earth wouldn't any commercial money-making genealogy site NOT want professionals using their sites for their various clients -? Positives would include: repeat business, possibility of their clients deciding to become members as well, higher usage stats, more money ... What's not to like for a business -?

  2. Hi Chris

    Professionals are very welcome to use the site using our corporate credit packages, which include discounts for bulk purchase. These can be viewed here AGRA members receive a further discount on top of this.

    kind regards

  3. Thanks Debra,

    A couple of points:

    1) Not every professional genealogist is in AGRA! Some are in APG, some are not affiliated at all to a group.

    2) I suspect that the changes that have been again made to the US site, seemingly reversing the changes made yesterday, will go down like a lead balloon (See On the back of the announcement yesterday I am aware of at least one UK based professional genealogist who took out a subscription last night on the US site, only to find that her sub is this morning seemingly no longer useful for that purpose.


  4. Quick update - FMP US has reinstated its new terms from yesterday allowing professional access from a subscription. The claim for the apparent reversal is that it was a "browser glitch". Whatever the reason, there is once again an advantage to subscribing to the US site over the UK site, if you are a professional genealogist. See