Frequently Asked Questions


What is this copyright business all about?

Can I get more explicit instructions on how to set up the formatting for a biography?

Can I submit biographies for people who are still alive?

Can I submit the same biography to more than one county?

Can I submit one biography for a whole family?




Information provided here is taken from the US Copyright Office's Website: 

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works.

Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work. Only the author or those deriving their rights through the author can rightfully claim copyright.

The use of a copyright notice is no longer required under U. S. law, although it is often beneficial. Use of the notice may be important because it informs the public that the work is protected by copyright, identifies the copyright owner, and shows the year of first publication. The copyright notice should be affixed in such a way as to "give reasonable notice of the claim of copyright."

Proper Notice

1. The symbol (c) or the word "Copyright," or the abbreviation "Copr."; and

2. The year of first publication of the work; and

3. The name of the owner of copyright in the work, or an abbreviation by which the name can be recognized, or a generally known alternative designation of the owner.

Example: (c) 2002 John Doe


How Long Do Copyrights Last?

Under the law in effect before 1978,the copyright endured for a first term of 28 years from the date it was secured. The Copyright Act of 1976 extended the renewal term from 28 to 47 years for copyrights that were subsisting on January 1, 1978, or for pre-1978 copyrights. These works were then eligible for a total term of protection of 75 years. In 1998,  protection for existing copyrights was extended for an additional 20 years, providing for a renewal term of 67 years and a total term of protection of 95 years.

This means that anything published prior to 1923 is no longer covered by copyright.  (Works published after that date may/may not be covered depending upon whether or not copyright renewals were filed.) 



Formatting a Biography

There are several different ways to create text documents.  most of us use some type of word processor such as WordPerfect or Microsoft Word.  The Windows95 WordPad, Windows 3.1x Write, and the MS-DOS Text Editor can also be used.  The difference in the various programs is going to be how the program handles the end of each line.  In order to be formatted correctly for a web browser, each line must end with a "Carriage Return" (aka the "Enter" key).  Most word processors use "word wrap" or "line wrap".  this means that when you have typed to the right margin, the program will automatically move the cursor to the left margin and down one line, but does not insert a carriage return.  This makes the program easier to use, but it also makes a text document that  contains a single very long line of text. Therefore, saving a text document using a word processor requires that you somehow include carriage returns at the end of each line.  In Word, clicking on FILE|SAVE AS and then setting the file type as "DOS Text with line breaks" accomplishes this.  WordPerfect has a similar function available.  

For best results, configure your page settings with a width of 65 (6.5") or less.  This can be best accomplished by setting the page size to 8.5 X 11 and setting the Left Margin to 1.2" and the Right Margin to 1.3".  These settings will create a biography that is easy to read and doesn't over-run the right margin.  If you use a text editor, such as the MS-DOS Text Editor, or Windows Notepad, you must manually insert a carriage return at the end of each line. Notepad will allow you to set a page size and margins, but will still not automatically handle the carriage returns.  

When creating your biographies, remember to put a heading at the top of each one that  
identifies your source book, author, and publication date.  You will also need to include your own by-line at the bottom of each biography in the following format: Submitted by: Your Name ([email protected]).  Check out these sample biographies.



Biographies for Living Individuals

Date and place of birth, the names of parents and siblings, date and place of marriage, etc. are the most private and precious possessions any person owns.  The right to decide if or how much of this personal information can be placed on the internet while they are still alive belongs to each individual.

Please respect the rights of others who may not wish information about themselves to be published, referenced or linked on this or any web site. Although it is unlikely, the biography you place on the internet might allow someone with less than honorable intent to gather a significant amount of information about the profiled person's identity. Concerns of a 30-year-old may differ substantially from those of a 92-year-old when it comes to putting their personal information out on the Internet, but in both cases the final decision must be his/her own. 



Multiple County Submission

People often do not live their entire lives in one location. It is not unusual for family members to have strong connections with more than one Minnesota County; perhaps even more than one state!

Although biographies are collected and indexed at the county level, these are forwarded to the state coordinator so that a statewide index is also maintained. Submit the biography to those counties where you think it is likely folks will be looking for your ancestors!  The county where he/she was born, lived the majority of his/her life, or the county in which the person died....give intrepid investigators every opportunity to find "Great-Great-Great Uncle George!"



Family Biographies

When you submit a family biography, you must select one name (usually the head of household) for the main index listing. However, if a visitor types  the name of any family member in the search box on the homepage, the biography you submitted will be returned as a result of that search!   





© 2003 Cass County Biographies Project   All Rights Reserved