Truly, we had hoped never to have to award this prize (see photo), but the sad day has come and so we must. It goes to the Commission on Access to Public Documents, or CADA, which has deemed that images taken of documents on the websites of the departmental archives may not be used on blogs or websites, for fear of privacy violations. Numbers 43-45 are the relevant pages of the lengthy report on the subject, which we give here:
The French Genealogy Blog, which we consider to be educational and not commercial, uses such images extensively, in an effort to explain to our readers how to use the archives. The current advice from the Fédération Française de Généalogie is to reproduce no images at all from the websites of the Archives départementales. Following this advice, the posts on this blog that contain such images have been taken down, temporarily, while we work on our plan to provide useful alternatives that will not violate this new edict.
The most recent meeting of the Fédération Française de Généalogie was meant to have a representative from the Archives de France speak about and explain this new policy, but no representative showed up. Instead, the meeting dissolved into a brouhaha about the fact that yet another genealogy company, Notre Famille, which owns genealogie.com, a messy, ad-infested, subscription site that we have never found to be particularly useful, attempted to negotiate the right to put all images of all parish and civil registrations of all departments on genealogie.com. The negotiations failed for the moment, so Notre Famille sent very aggressive letters to each and every departmental archives, scaring the daylights out of some of the archivists, who were shocked at the plans of a "private company to use public documents for commercial gain". Recall that there is another player in the game. We suspect that it is not fear that blogs such as ours will violate the privacy of the long dead which is the reason for banning use of the images online, but the machinations of these two companies.
As for why any company would think there is profit to be had in charging for what is all ready available free, the answer is the index. There is no indexing to any of the actes of the état civil online, beyond the ten-year indices, which are at the lowest local level. The company that first provides for all actes of France the kind of search facility that is available on ancestry.com for US Federal censuses, e.g. by name, place, sex, age, year, etc. will strike French gold. The consequences will change French genealogy. Cercles fear they will disappear, archivists fear the corruption of venality, all those who research their family fear they would no longer be able to afford to do so.
These are interesting times in French genealogy.
©2010 Anne Morddel
Update: the first of our efforts at giving a serviceable copy. Yawn.