January 29th, 2015 – It is with great frustration to announce, that Ancestry.com, and their subsidiary Fold3, has laid down a claim to copyright on the Project Blue Book material – which has long been labeled as “public domain” by the National Archives & Records Administration (NARA). Ancestry.com is claiming ownership to the digital version of this material – despite me having records that Fold3 doesn’t even have in their archive and I received under the FOIA starting back in 1996. They simply claimed it was 100% theirs and I was forced to remove it.
Because of my attempt with properly crediting Fold3 with a DIRECT LINK to their site as partial credit for some of the material, they used that show of proper credit by me to issue a copyright claim under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Anyone who knows anything about the law can attest; you are “guilty until proven innocent” so this was the beginning of the end. I never hid from Fold3 as a source, and even brought them up in some media interviews I did take part in, which were all cut out. No one cared about that part of the story – this new archive was what they wanted to report on because it was simple, straight forward, easy and free. And people loved it.
Based on an evidence-less claim I was forced to remove the entire site. That’s right, there was ZERO evidence submitted to my web hosting provider of ownership or copyright or license, but rather, they simply placed the accusation which is all it takes.
In good faith, I took the site down in hopes a compromise could be reached. They already had credit given on the front page of the site for some of the material, and that link alone resulted in a 12%+ increase in their entire statistics since they posted records in 2007, and my link multiplied their weekly hits by 10x, yes ten times, in only 5 days (statistics are posted on their page, so I am not guessing on those statistics but rather took notes).
I stated there was much more information here than is cited to Fold3, but they didn’t care. I offered giving them a full 100% “share of voice” banner ad to advertise Fold3 (in addition to the link already driving them traffic), or to sell ads with no profit share to me, and they didn’t care. I asked if they would work with me on any capacity, because CLEARLY interest was being generated by my audience (and obviously not by theirs) but they didn’t care.
In the end – they offered I become a member of their affiliate program – and offer a link to them in exchange for a portion of sales generated. ie: You have to sign up with them, pay a membership, and they give me a percentage. I quickly declined.
This is public record material, and it should remain so. To lay ‘exclusive’ claim to it in the digital world, when both sites (my site and theirs) offer it for free – is ludicrous and a waste of time and money for everyone.
But at the end of the day, I am proud to have brought attention to information that although has been available for quite some time – the public at large never knew it existed. I will let Google Trends prove my point. Here is the popularity of Project Blue Book, since 2005, and a graph relating to people searching for information on it.