Monday, June 23, 2014

Mundia to close -- Ancestry.com

For some years now Mundia has been functioning as a kind of Ancestry Lite -- a place where you could upload your family tree and look at other people's family trees, including those on Ancestry.com. We discovered it about 3 years ago when we were doing research into the Ellwood family, and it had some usefulness in enabling us to get in touch with some Ellwood researchers, but it also had many flaws, some of which I have described here: Genealogy notes and news: Mundia -- yet another flawed family history site.

Now comes the news that Ancestry.com are planning to close Mundia down in September, along with a few of their other services Genealogy Insider - Ancestry.com to Retire Five Genealogy Services:
Mundia family trees also are on Ancestry.com, where you can search them for free (you must subscribe in order to contact tree owners, which is the case with all of Ancestry.com's member trees). Mundia tree owners can download their family trees in their native language before Sept. 5.

This tends to confirm what I thought when I first saw it -- that Mundia was a "honeypot" site, designed to persuade people to give their family history information to Ancestry, so that Ancestry could then sell it to others.

Well, their announcement that the site is to close also says that they will not sell it to others, but that it will still be available free, but you will not be able to contact any of the people who uploaded their family trees without paying. And there is nothing to stop Ancestry charging people, including you, to look at your tree later.

It is for this reason that I did not upload my family tree on Mundia. Their terms of service were quite clear:
For each item of content that you post, you grant to us and our affiliates a world-wide, royalty free, fully paid-up, non-exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, transferable, and fully sublicensable (including to other Website users) license, without additional consideration to you or any third party, to: (i) reproduce, distribute, make available, transmit, communicate to the public, perform and display (publicly or otherwise), edit, modify, adapt, create derivative works from and otherwise use such content, in any format or media now known or later developed; (ii) exercise all trademark, publicity and other proprietary rights with regard to such content; (iii) use your name, photograph, portrait, picture, voice, likeness and biographical information as provided by you in connection with your content for the Service, in each case, in connection with your content. For example, after your registration or subscription has ended, we may continue to use and display any content that you previously posted, and other users may continue may access, change, edit, add to, subtract from or otherwise amend such content. If you do not want to grant us the rights set out in these Terms of Use, please do not post any content on the Website.
Much of that is fairly standard for social networking sites as well as genealogy ones. It is to obviate complaints from people, who, having posted their information publicly, then complain that their privacy has been violated. But in several respects it goes well beyond that, especially in this clause, "(ii) exercise all trademark, publicity and other proprietary rights with regard to such content".which gives them the right to stop you from publishing your family tree anywhere else.

One of the problems with Mundia is that it encourages people to add people from other family trees to thsir own, and makes irt very easy to do so without checking the accuracy or validity of the information. And a lot of people have in fact posted inaccurate information, so that faulty family trees on Mundia sometimes outnumber good ones. We've given an example of this here: Jane Ellwood and the perils of online family trees | Hayes & Greene family history, where about 90% of the trees on Mundia are wrong.

In the light of that, and other examples, perhaps it is a good thing that Mundia is to close. But the closure will not make the bad information go away. It will just make it more difficult for people to correct it.

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