For the past seven years, Ancestry.com has provided free access to their databases to Family History Centers throughout the world. Recent negotiations between The Generations Network, Inc. and the LDS church have resulted in a termination of the free access.
The Generations Network, Inc. recently issued the following statement.
A STATEMENT FROM ANCESTRY.COM REGARDING THE RECENT ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE FAMILY HISTORY CENTERS OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS
On March 16, 2007, a communication was sent to the Directors of Family History Centers from the Worldwide Support management of the Family History Department. Ancestry.com wishes to clarify a number of points not addressed by this communication.
For the past seven years, Ancestry.com has provided all Church family history centers free access to Ancestry.com without a formal licensing agreement in place or any compensation from the Church.
Over the past several months, Ancestry.com has been working actively to reach agreement with the Church on a formal licensing arrangement by which it could continue to make its service available to the public for free. Unfortunately, the two parties were unable to reach an agreement on this matter.
Ancestry.com strongly desires to have a licensing arrangement with the Church that would allow it to continue to provide free access to the public in Family History Centers. The company said it still hopes to create an acceptable agreement with the Church. The Ancestry Library Edition is available free to the public in over 1400 public libraries in the U.S. and U.K. via a similar licensing arrangement.
Ancestry.com and the Church have cooperated over the years on a number of projects to digitize and index some important online databases. The Generations Network values its relationship with the Church and is committed to working closely with the Church and all players in the genealogy world to advance interest in family history across the world.
Because of existing contractual agreements, a select number of Ancestry.com databases will continue to be accessible inside LDS Church family history centers. These include the 1880, 1900 and 1920 U.S. censuses, full name indices for the British 1841-1891 censuses (England and Wales), World War I draft cards, and a few additional smaller databases.
Dick Eastman, who was present at the BYU conference this week when this statement was issued, published interesting comments in his blog. Read his statement here.