Clock is Ticking: In 28 Days, Ancestry CAN DO ANYTHING THEY WANT With Every Image In Your Tree

See all these photos I’ve uploaded to Ancestry?

According to Ancestry’s new updated Terms of Service dated August 3, 2021, Ancestry will be able to use these photos, and anything else I’ve ever uploaded or saved, in any way they want, for any purpose, forever. And there’s nothing I can do about it except:

  • Don’t upload anything beginning now
  • Delete anything previously uploaded or saved during the next 28 days (before September 2, 2021)

This Means

  • Ancestry can now do whatever they want with anything you upload to your ancestry tree beginning August 3, 2021.
  • This includes anything you’ve shared with anyone else and THEY’VE uploaded to Ancestry trees too.
  • Or, if Ancestry has offered one of your images/photos as hints to someone and they have accepted that hint and added your image to someone in their tree.
  • This includes any image or information that you have saved that was associated with anyone else’s tree.

Yes, if you haven’t guessed, I’m gritting my teeth…and that’s putting it mildly.

In the past, I’ve ENCOURAGED people to upload photos because it makes your tree more attractive – as cousin bait.

I wanted to encourage other people to upload photos of my ancestors, because I want to find photos that I’ve never seen. Furthermore, I want to share photos and family history with my cousins.

However, that does NOT, DOES NOT, extend to Ancestry claiming my photos for their own use – regardless of whatever that use is – forever. Once uploaded, there’s no taking this decision back and there’s no revoking that permission at Ancestry.

Judy Russell’s Blog Article

I’m not a lawyer, but Judy Russell* certainly is and she has addressed this new information in her blog, here, titled “One big change at Ancestry.”

I reached out to Judy with a couple questions which she was kind enough to answer:

Q1: What about photos and stories I’ve already uploaded, before this new change in Ancestry’s Terms and Conditions?

A1: Judy says that relative to materials previously uploaded, Ancestry says the new terms take effect 30 days from the date you’re informed – which was August 3. Judy presumes, and therefore I do too, that this means that customers (or anyone who has uploaded anything) to trees have 30 days to remove anything they don’t want to give Ancestry the right to use in any way they wish.

I’m using the word “give” very loosely here. Ancestry is taking that right by modifying the terms and conditions and notifying you – which started the clock. That 30 days began on August 3rd which means that if you do NOT remove something already uploaded or saved, Ancestry retains the right to use it any way they see fit, forever.

Q2: What about external web links I’ve posted in the profiles of each of my ancestors?

A2: Ancestry can’t utilize anything from the link itself.

I’ve added web links to the stories I’ve written about each ancestor to that ancestor’s Ancestry profile card.

I was pretty sure that since I only posted the link that Ancestry CANNOT take anything contained within these stories so long as NO ONE ACTUALLY COPIES THE ARTICE, PHOTOS OR IMAGES AND POSTS THEM TO THEIR TREE at Ancestry.

So, please, PLEASE DO NOT UPLOAD anyone’s work except your own and only then if you intend to grant Ancestry perpetual (forever) rights to do anything they want with everything you upload.

As for me, I’m deleting every single one of the images I’ve ever uploaded. I will leave the links to my articles, but I will add a note to each of those articles asking people to NOT copy, paste and/or upload anything from my articles to Ancestry – and I’ll explain why. I WANT my cousins to use these articles for their own research, and to share with others – but I have absolutely NO INTENTION, EVER of “giving” this information to Ancestry to use unrestricted as they see fit.

Read, Read, Read

As always, Judy encourages everyone to thoroughly read any new terms of service or modifications issued by ANY vendor because these documents change the contract you have with that vendor.

The vendors do NOT have to notify you via email or message. I did NOT receive any email and found out about the Ancestry change via Judy’s blog.

Where does Ancestry post these notifications? You can find this one on the top of your page when you sign in which is typical. If you don’t sign in, don’t specifically look for these notifications, and don’t READ what they say – you’re not protecting your rights!

By the way, Judy notes that you still OWN the actual content, so you can still continue to use it in any way you see fit that doesn’t violate someone else’s copyright. However, by uploading, you have granted Ancestry the contract right to do anything they want with anything you upload and you cannot do anything about that after the fact. This change is already in effect as of August 3rd for anything newly uploaded.

However, right now, you still have time to delete images you uploaded previously.


If you want to remove anything currently uploaded, do it BEFORE September 2nd and DO NOT UPLOAD ANYTHING ELSE if you are not willing to allow Ancestry permanent unfettered ability to utilize your documents and images.

To delete an image at Ancestry, click on the profile card of the person in your tree. Then click on Gallery where you’ll see all of the images you’ve saved or uploaded. To delete, click on the trash can and then SELECT “DELETE FROM TREE.

If you just click on “Remove from Gallery,” it’s not deleted entirely from your tree, just disconnected from that person.

According to Ancestry:

Removing/detaching a photo from someone’s Gallery disconnects the photo from that person, but leaves it connected to the tree. Deleting a photo, on the other hand, permanently removes the photo from both the person and the tree.

Delete each image separately.


Judy mentioned that in 2013 she previously wrote that Sharing at FamilySearch is Forever too*. The difference being, of course, that FamilySearch is entirely free, available to everyone, and benefits only genealogists. In other words, FamilySearch doesn’t charge and is not profiting off of utilizing our images.

It’s still something you should be aware of so you can make an informed decision.

What About MyHeritage?

I felt sure this was NOT the case at MyHeritage. Just to be positive, I reached out to Gilad Japhet, Founder and CEO of MyHeritage to confirm that MyHeritage does NOT in fact retain any rights to their customer’s work or images. I asked Gilad to differentiate between Ancestry’s new terms and conditions and MyHeritage’s terms and conditions.

Here’s what Gilad said:

The differentiation is that Ancestry is now apparently availing themselves irrevocably to content uploaded by users. Not just photos, but also family tree data.

On MyHeritage, I confirm this is not the case. On MyHeritage, the user can delete any content, including family tree data and photos, and MyHeritage will then destroy it permanently (and cease to hold on to it, nor assert any rights whatsoever to it).

Regarding the use of images: as part of the informed consent on MyHeritage, which is used mainly in the context of DNA testing, users may grant MyHeritage permission to also use photos for MyHeritage’s internal research (for example, to develop an algorithm that guesses when a photo was taken, or to learn how to repair scratches in photos). That informed consent can be withdrawn.

In the past, MyHeritage has asked permission to use one of my images and reference one of my ancestor articles (by using a link) in their blog – a courtesy that I much appreciated. This is exactly how a customer relationship SHOULD work.

Special Thanks

I want to say a special thank you to Judy Russell for answering my questions in addition to writing her blog article(s) keeping us all informed about legal matters.

Also a special thanks to Gilad Japhet for getting back to me so quickly and for establishing and maintaining customer-friendly and respectful policies at MyHeritage.


*Judy G. Russell, “One big change at Ancestry,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 4 Aug 2021).

*Judy G. Russell, “Sharing at FamilySearch is Forever,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 13 May 2013).



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214 thoughts on “Clock is Ticking: In 28 Days, Ancestry CAN DO ANYTHING THEY WANT With Every Image In Your Tree

  1. Ancestry’s history of screwing their customers continues. Along with the new terms of use they also announce ‘Changes to reflect discontinuation of AncestryHealth’. Not only are they discontinuing AncestryHealth they are also DELETING the results.

  2. It would take me months to remove all my images. I’m wondering if I should just delete my tree and have DNA cousins contact me directly for information. Many of my photos and images have been added to other people’s trees. I know of at least one that attached the photo to the wrong person – and I thought THAT was a problem. Deleting my tree or my images won’t remove them from other people’s trees. Ugh!

    • i tried deleting my tree and I cannot find a way to do so. Do you know how I can do this and remove it completely from Ancestry? Thanks. Regina

  3. You are too gullible to believe the misrepresentations of MyHeritage’s CEO: their TOS (terms of service) clearly grant them a PERPETUAL license to do whatever they wish to do with user content, Gilad Japhet’s warm reassurances notwithstanding. “Except with respect to the DNA Services, as detailed above, by posting content on the [MyHeritage] Website, you grant us a royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual and non-exclusive license to host, copy, post and distribute such content.” Perpetual and non-revocable are exactly equivalent, for all intents and purposes, whether or not MyHeritage may in some cases choose not to exercise its perpetual license, purely on an arbitrary and unenforceable “honor system”.

    • Exactly… Roberta does not appear to have posted my reaction to her original post, where I point out similarly, that MyHeritage has little or no regard for private trees, and won’t even remove living people from others’ public trees.

      I’m also wondering how many people, instead of knee-jerk reacting to this and are now hell-bent on removing their trees and photos and etc., have actually messaged ancestry for clarification?

  4. I did receive an email from Ancestry yesterday regarding their Privacy changes. But until I received the blog update on Ancestry from you, I had no idea what they could actually do. I spent along time reading the new Ancestry Practices and Still did not realize what they meant. HMMMM.

  5. Hello Ms. Estes,

    Thanks for this blog post! I don’t like the way Big Tech keeps increasing in the power they assume. I was curious about this and somewhat concerned so I did a little digging after reading your article last night. What I found was that the word “perpetual” isn’t anything new to the terms and conditions. I find that Ancestry added that word as of August 1, 2014 (see the web archive of Ancestry’s Terms and Conditions at Wayback Machine (

    The new additional word which is effective as of 03 Aug 2021, “non-revocable” does sound somewhat troubling, but I believe is necessary for the way they have been conducting their business for a number of years. Specifically, this is the scenario: When you find a photo of your ancestor which a cousin has uploaded to their tree and made publicly available, you save it to your tree and link it to your ancestor, then at some point they delete their tree or otherwise delete the photo from their tree…at this point, (and I’m not a lawyer, so I may be wrong, but it seems logical that) without a perpetual license, they would be required to delete the photo you had found and saved to your tree (it seems like the other user removing a photo they uploaded to the Ancestry platform would revoke Ancestry’s license for it to remain on their platform and this in your tree). Instead what happens is, the photo remains in your tree and attached to your ancestor, with the attribution that the other user originally uploaded it on a certain date, but if you go to the tree of the original uploader you will not find it. I just verified this occurs by deleting a photo of an family member just to make certain, but once you delete your item from ancestry they continue in perpetuity to allow other users to keep the photo. I think this is where the “non-revocable” part has finally been codified. They really should have had that word in there long ago, as they’ve been operating like it was for years.

    One other thing is that they’ve now referenced their Copyright policy in the Terms and Conditions, however this appears to have been a policy in similar form (i.e., mentioning “we are a licensed distributor”) as early as 18 Dec 2017. Maybe since it’s now referenced in the Terms it becomes more legally binding? I honestly don’t know.

    Thank for your watching out for us though and sharing great content! Please keep up the good work.

    Will Dougherty, III

  6. Thanks Roberta.
    Like Donna, I read most of the terms of service update, but it didn’t compute. It’s good to know what is going on, however we feel about it.

      • I’m unclear on something- my understanding was that all info on living people was private and unavailable to others- does this change now?

        • Apparently so. Ancestry is not limited as to what they can do with it. This would go beyond just sharing with other customer’s trees.

  7. Does it mean I have to delete all my pictures in my tree that I work on in the Family Tree Maker softaware before synching to Ancestry? I don’t have a subscription to Ancestry, but synch my tree on a regular basis from my sofltware. Thank you for always being on the lookout.

    • If you don’t allow images to upload to Ancestry, then there should not be a problem. If your images are at Ancestry, then there is an issue.

      • Thank you! I just checked my tree on Ancestry and only the signatures that I use as portraits for my ancestors since I have so few family pictures show up. But since I only have limited access because of my FamilyTreeMaker software, I cannot tell, if I see everything. I also checked my software and cannot find a place to limit what is uploaded to Ancestry. My next step is to contact FTM. Thank you again for keeping us up to date.

  8. I too read the new Terms of Service and totally missed this change. Thank you Judy and Roberta. I doubt that it will have any impact, but I did go to their suggestion area at I wasn’t sure what topic to pick, so I selected viewing records and images under the Website category. Sharing pictures and stories is one of the great things for me about Ancestry. I can’t believe I have to take the time to remove all of them.

  9. One final comment from me, as I am not greatly affected. I realized a few months after joining Ancestry that I had made a mistake. I did not like their monopolistic acquisitions, their tools that encouraged bad genealogy, getting tied in to very bad trees at first because I did not know better, etc.

    I’ve spent the last two years finding ways to effectively do genealogy without an Ancestry subscription. I still have a subscription but I won’t be hurt if I drop it. Genealogy work would only be a little less convenient. My local library has access to Ancestry as does the local LDS Family History Library which anyone is able to use. I can always get copies of records that only Ancestry holds.

    Whenever possible I try to get records elsewhere.

    I have DNA at MyHeritage and have a good sized tree there for the DNA matching. I don’t like their Smart Matching and auto tree enlargement. I don’t use it. I don’t have a subscription to their records. I’ve thought about it but their service is really expensive in my opinion. On that note, I only renew Ancestry when I can get a bargain basement deal. Otherwise, Ancestry also too expensive for me.

    There are other ways to work.

    I extensively work in Family Search ( I do NOT add junk trees/branches ) I do my best to add verifiable well sourced material.

    I work in WikiTree which I really like, there are ways to easily add materials I have researched in Family Search as sources and connections in WikiTree.

    I am a Mac User, I use Heredis (French) and Reunion ( Austrailian) software on my desktop.

    I extensively use my local genealogy room, WorldCat and borrowing – there are ways to do this for many books and even microfilm. I extensively use free online resources. I have joined 4 genealogy societies and have access to their seminars and stored journals. I use Google Books, FamilySearch Catalog and FamilySearch Books. I use online State Archives and regional archives. Some of these resources are on Ancestry but they have to remain free to the public per contract with the Archive Ancestry got them from. Many of the Ancestry sources are from Family Search.

    There are many other resources free and not. Cathy’s List is great for finding resources. I listen to podcasts and read blogs. I take online seminars, free and not.

    I am sure others have found other ways to effectively do genealogy research – Without $$Ancestry$$.

    Long ago, I made my Ancestry Tree my “JUNK” Tree. In my opinion, they won’t get much even if they do pull it from archives. I do my serious work elsewhere.

    • Enjoyed your post.. I too count pennies since I also for close family I have bought records from court houses “25 + ” years ago before computers and this hobby became big… I also have Ancestry but share with two other cousins.. saves money !

  10. Roberta, thank you as always for clarifying Mumbo jumbo. I am confused in my panic and I can’t seem to find I clear answer.

    I have multiple trees.
    * Do I need to delete each individual image in each tree?
    *Will deleting a tree from ancestry suffice?

    Ie quote from individual tree setting page; “Delete your tree from Ancestry. This includes deleting all people, photos, stories, etc. in your tree
    Warning! This action cannot be undone!”

    *I could then do a pared back tree with no media before uploading and synching again?

    Thank you again.

    • Yes, according to this verbiage, that should take care of of it. Download the actual tree first in case you’ve added people or info you don’t have on your computer.

      • Those Mormons ! They had info on everyone way before computers. I saw your post that they destroyed all DNA, I don’t believe it . Even though I downloaded my DNA from there to gedmatch ,I believe they still have my results in some form stored away somewhere.

  11. I have a somewhat divergent opinion on this. This is not new news. I have always known that anything I put on my trees in Ancestry is fair game for anyone (even Ancestry) to use. That is why I never put anything sensitive there. That sort of thing stays in my Legacy trees on my computer, with backups. Ancestry is for information I want to share. That includes all the personal family photos and many other people’s personal family photos that I have saved to my trees because we have a connection.

    I have been researching for 30 years but I won’t last forever. Someone may throw out my extensive collection of photos when I am gone, but if they are saved on Ancestry they will always be there for my cousins and my greatgrandchildren who want to see them. I have benefited from your research, Roberta, because some of your ancestors are also mine, and I have loved reading your terrific posts about them on your blog. I bless you for your generous sharing..

    No, I am NOT going to delete my photos or my trees, as I hope they will be there for many years after I am gone, where my distant cousins can find them, because they certainly won’t have access to my disks, my binders and boxes and bookshelves. This will be my legacy.

    • The flip side of that is that you don’t know what will happen to your content when you are gone.Maybe another change will delete it all if you are no longer an “active” member.

      • That’s another issue entirely. Then it behooves me to have it duplicated elsewhere, doesn’t it? Which I have done. And a meteor could destroy Ancestry’s servers tomorrow., or..or…

    • Not all photos are labeled with a name. Just because a photo is behind a profile does not mean the photo/s are of the profile person. I have uploaded for future research to profiles, data that probably has nothing to do with the profile. Sometimes there is a different rhyme or reason, unbeknowst to others, for the data in a profile, sometimes just a research tree.

    • I feel the need to add something. I researched my ancestors for years before the internet came along, so my research was on paper and on my own computer. I wrote letters to relatives I could find, sending them copies. Then came the internet, a dial-up modem and then a computer program (Legacy in 2002) to simplify my organization. Hurray! I jumped aboard eagerly to all these innovations. Always sharing, sharing, sharing with others and getting back more information and photos too.

      Then came Ancestry. I paid for the privilege of receiving more information without having to trek to NARA or courthouses, and was able to share my research with a wider audience. It was worth it the cost, especially since I knew that the information I had worked hard to gather would remain after I stopped paying, or passed away, and people related to me would not have to duplicate my efforts. It’s a free market contract. I got a service I valued in exchange for my money.

      I really don’t understand this panic over Ancestry restating or clarifying something we were already told and should have known. I especially can’t understand why people would want to delete their photos and trees in pique over this statement of policy. Who is being hurt by this? Sounds like “biting off your nose to spite your face” as Grandma used to say.

  12. Before everyone has a heart attack or whatever, give this a little more thought instead of knee-jerk reaction. Ancestry may have a legal right to make this contract change, but certainly doesn’t make it ethical. However, I long gave up on the quaint notion that large corporations give a rip about what customers think or want (for example, WordPress and Block Editor). If you want customer service, go back to your local Mom and Pop.

    Whatever images and stories you previously uploaded to a public Ancestry tree have been saved on many other trees. If you think your user name is still attached to it somewhere, you may be surprised. I’ve asked users where they got images, because Ancestry says they uploaded it. The user responds they got it from another tree – and that user’s name is no longer anywhere attached to the image. Face it. Your removing it from your tree at this point will do nothing. It’s out there on the internet for anyone forevermore. Don’t like it? Tough. Don’t upload anything to the internet from now on.

    So, what nefarious schemes does Ancestry have for using these images and stories? They’re already using this stuff for marketing. Are they going to start publishing family histories based on your trees? Who the heck would buy them? You? Answer: Nobody.

    What am I going to do? I will be removing photos of living persons, including my profile photo. I do not want Ancestry thinking they have a right to use those. That’s it.

    • In addition, I see images I uploaded to Ancestry showing up in my hints with another user’s name attached all the time. And there are constantly images taken from Find A Grave, which is a copyright violation as well as a violation of the user agreements on both sites. But Ancestry does nothing to put a stop to this.

    • Thank you, Roberta for the article and Eilene for this position. My take on it is quite similar: If I do not want a photo or document to be copied on the internet in an uncontrollable manner, I do not upload it ANYWHERE, not on Ancestry, nor MyHeritage nor FamilySearch. Hints on Ancestry as well as SmartMatches on MyHeritage will lead to people copying things from my tree (as well as I do it for matches with my tree) and from there on, I have no control any longer.

      I have private trees on both Ancestry and MyHeritage. I decided from the start to not upload photos on Ancestry at all and no photos of living people on neither of the both. I also chose to keep some family stories out of the tree, because even those can be copied and multiplied on the internet. “But you have the trees set to private!” you say? Yes, but that is only a limited barrier. I invite close and distant relatives to my private tree to be able to do shared research. They copy photos/documents from my MyHeritage tree and upload it to Ancestry. Then, several Ancestry users copy it to their Ancestry trees, thinking it is ok. In short, whatever the new policy is, this will continue to happen due to the inherent process of matches and user actions.

      A slightly different topic, but I choose to bring it up here, too: If you think that birth dates and photos of living persons on your tree are private – think twice! Even in this case, if you have the parents and the name of the person, you will be offered a match with data/photos from other trees – both on Ancestry and on MyHeritage. I love the feature, because this way I can find information on my distant living cousins. But if you want your own photo, birth date and that of your living relatives to remain private, do not upload it anywhere, on ANY platform.

      Chris from Germany

  13. As an “older” computer user I appreciate all the help I can get….& anything that I can do that helps others build their Tree accurately is my “pleasure”. (My daughter has helped ME put online original photos, etc. to share with my Grandparents, Great Grandparent’s etc other “offspring”/descendants who otherwise would have no access to THEIR Ancestors….for “whatever” reason…..when “portraits” were taken many years ago….I’m sure they were intended to be shared with “family”. I wish all of the Genealogy “platforms” could share & co-operate with each other . I very much like “Thru-lines”, & “Hints”….(& always check them out to the best of my ability) & wish there was MORE co-operation between “Shared Matches” on the various “Sites”…DNA & our “Family Trees”!! (PLEASE don’t delete information so valuable to your “cousins”!!!!!)

  14. I have been a long time Ancestry subscriber…at great expense! Is there any easy way to take my info and transfer it all to another site and then just dump my Ancestry account?

  15. Roberta, I suspect you’ve found this already, but I found that tree settings show all media in a central place that might be easier to manage than working person-by-person: Screen Shot 2021-08-05 at 3.53.45 PM

    • I had no idea how much media I had before seeing this. The only things I want to delete are actually things I uploaded, not items like census records that were found and saved from record collections.

  16. Can you tell me what you think Ancestry might do with this data that is so wrong? A picture of an ancestor is not a secret to be withheld. A record of a birth is in the public domain. A story of an ancestor’s life is factual (if you have researched it well).
    If Ancestry want to make money by using a picture of my great aunt Alice as part of their advertising I have no objection. The picture was not earning me any money that I might consequently lose, and it might help to keep the subs from increasing! (no chance). If law enforcement officers find out that grandad was a bank robber, so be it.
    No problem!
    Or if you think it is a problem tell me why?

    • It’s also photos of living people. Profile photos. Think facial recognition, for example. And this does not exclude private trees. And it’s not limited to genealogy either. I’m not giving anyone the right to do anything they want with anything of mine. Period. It’s not just about today and today’s technology either.

    • I think I agree with you but Ancestry keeps making me unhappy.. So many of my photos have been shared that it is a lost cause deleting them. I have shared my photos to preserve them, and make cousins happy. The only living person with a photo on my tree is me. My children in the group photo are now grown. The photo is 30 years old.. We no longer look the same. I do not understand why Ancestry would want to own our photos. Their move is making them even more unpopular, I do not understand how this snatch and grab tactic can be legal, and I doubt we have heard the last of this.

  17. Good morning Roberta, I am wondering if you saw the 5 August 2021 Ancestry blog post, responding as usual AFTER THE FACT to the mess of their own creation. It seems they have amended their recent change to the Terms and Conditions to add . . .

    “ Notwithstanding the non-revocable and perpetual nature of this license, it terminates when your User Provided Content is deleted from our systems. Be aware that to the extent you elected to make your User Provided Content “public” and other users copied or saved it to the Services, this license continues until the content has been deleted both by you and the other users.*”

    I’m interest in your thoughts. I will post the link to the blog here so that the above information can be read in context.

    • Thanks for posting the blog post. I’m not sure it clarifies anything. Bottom line – you can delete your tree and images but if anyone else has uploaded it you are still out of luck.

      • Yes. But if you have images or stories on a private tree, or your own profile pictures – hopefully they have not been shared.

  18. I am a bit concerned that “Delete from tree” only removes it from your tree and does not actually remove it from Ancestry’s systems. I have kept some links to images to test after using the “Delete from tree” option and the links continue to work.

    I will see if I can find a way to contact Ancestry to insist that any images uploaded by me have been permanently removed from their system.

  19. Roberta – curious what genealogy program you use for your trees…what others use. I’m considering syncing my FTM one last time, deleting my trees from to make a clean break but uploading a skeleton (no pun intended), tree with no details. Do I continue to use FTM? Don’t know yet. Is there a better way to manage trees to give more separation, and protection, of my work from situations like this? Appreciate your feedback and insight.

    • I use RootsMagic and I do not sync. As I understand FTM, if you disable syncing, that should prevent future uploads. You still have to deal with the current ones. Dear Myrtle is preparing some FTM guidelines.

      • I talked to a nice gentleman yesterday at FTM. He reminded me to privatized all my media items before synching to Ancestry. I did it and checked my tree on ancestry. There was not a single photo or story uploaded. My media file on Ancestry was totally empty.

  20. As a librarian, I am concerned about this. Many people use Ancestry at their school library, public library, state library or genealogical society library. Protecting student/patron’s private information is vital, and is included in most library policies and procedures. How will this impact Ancestry’s ability to be offered in public institutions? Will libraries need to cancel their subscriptions to Ancestry to comply? Additionally, most libraries follow ALA guidelines on patron privacy, which includes their interest and research. See

    • I believe the Ancestry Library subscriptions do NOT allow for patrons to create a tree from that access. If I want to work on my Ancestry tree while I’m at the library, I have to log into MY account on my laptop. I might be able to log into my Ancestry account from a browser on the library’s computers, but I’ve never tried it. Regardless, it would be accessing it from ANCESTRY.COM not ANCESTRYLIBRARY.COM. The same situation exists with schools who have access through the K-12 grant program. Students cannot build a tree.

      Bottom line, I don’t think any user created content can be created with those subscriptions/access. I believe that was what you were concerned about? I don’t think the library would be responsible for what patrons do through the ANCESTRY.COM account even if the internet acces was on library computers (or network).

      As a patron, I expect my library NOT to keep tabs on where I go or what I do (as long as I don’t violate their usage rules), but what those SITES do hinges on their terms, as it would if I accessed them from home.

      However, I am NOT a lawyer.

      • I worked in a public library that offers access to Ancestry Library edition. You can not access your personal account through Library edition. You can search public trees and see your tree, but you can’t edit it. You would have to access from a browser and put in your user name and password to get to your account.

  21. I just read Ancestry’s privacy statement which is in very understandable language. It states that a person’s permission is needed to use any photo or data in their advertising. Permission needed for other things also. I feel comfortable remaining with Ancestry at this time.

  22. Ancestry just sent me an email explaining the changes, including: 2.2.3 Ownership of Your Content: You own your Personal Information and User Provided Content. You can delete your Personal Information from Ancestry by logging into your Account Settings (for additional information, see the Privacy Statement). So long as your content remains on our system, we need certain rights from you for your and others’ use of the Services. By using the Services, you grant us the right to collect, host, transfer, process, analyze, communicate and store your Personal Information (including your Genetic Information) in order to (a) provide the Services to you and other Users, (b) for the purposes described in these Terms and our Privacy Statement, (c) to help our Users discover more about their families and family histories and build their family trees, and (d) for any other purpose to which you expressly agree, such as sharing with others.

    Also, by submitting User Provided Content through any of the Services, you grant Ancestry a perpetual, sublicensable, worldwide, non-revocable, royalty-free license to host, store, copy, publish, distribute, provide access to, create derivative works of, and otherwise use such User Provided Content to the extent and in the form or context we deem appropriate on or through any media or medium and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed or discovered. This includes the right for Ancestry to copy, display, and index your User Provided Content. Ancestry will own the indexes it creates. Notwithstanding the non-revocable and perpetual nature of this license, it terminates when your User Provided Content is deleted from our systems. Be aware that to the extent you elected to make your User Provided Content public and other users copied or saved it to the Services, this license continues until the content has been deleted both by you and the other users.

    2.3 Copyright and Trademark: Each of the Services is protected by copyright as a collective work or compilation, pursuant to U.S. copyright laws, international conventions, and other copyright laws. The trademarks, service marks, and logos contained in the Services are owned by or licensed to us. We and our licensors retain title, ownership, and all other rights and interests in and to all Ancestry Content in the Services.

    If you have concerns that User Provided Content posted by other Users may infringe your rights, contain illegal material, or violate these Terms, please contact us. We are also sensitive to the copyright and other intellectual property rights of others. For complaints regarding copyright infringement or illegal content, including any Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown requests, click here. For additional information about our Copyright Policy, click here.

  23. I am certainly not deleting 23 trees with extensive imagery. Twenty of my trees are private and not found on searches. I’m not concerned about photographs. I am more concerned with the ability to find anything you want about anybody by doing a Google search. Make sure you have put a freeze on your credit reports!

  24. I do not have a problem with Ancestry changing their rules. That’s their prerogative.

    What I have a problem with it Ancestry luring people to upload content under one set of rules, and then, changing the rules, knowing full well that once any image was shared, it renders the original owner unable to take advantage of the time period to delete images.

    I uploaded pictures, and if they were shared, it still said the original was mine. So naturally, I assumed the software merely pointed to my one picture, not gave it to others. And I assumed if I deleted it, it would be deleted. I imagine others thought this, too.

    It seems to me, the only fair thing for Ancestry to do, is to grandfather in any pictures uploaded before August 3, so that they remain under the old rules in perpetuity. Or to figure out a way that if a picture originally shared by a person is deleted by that person that it’s deleted from the database period.

    And I am wondering if anyone is considering some sort of online petition in this regard. Otherwise, we have all just been swindled.

    • You would think a few hot shot young new attorneys would want to try to make a name for themselves and start a class action law suit. But, where would they get the seed money for that venture.

  25. Thank You Roberta for sharing this information. Good thing I was wearing my Inviso Liners when reading this article! : /

    Shared your article with all my project members.

    Now to get busy reviewing my account, and a few cousins who I shared family pictures with, who turned around and posted them to Ancestry.

    Ally n Cali

  26. For Annick H’s concern about FTM linked to Ancestry and limiting what’s synched. “Cousin Russ” who writes the FTM2019 blog had an extremely elegant solution to remove media files from Ancestry Member Tree but keep them in FTM2019. His solution and blog entry are at

  27. What is the position where I have my own family history website where I have photos that are copyright to me, and someone unbeknown to me copies some and posts them to their tree on ancestry – it has happened?

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