Copyright Issues with BMD Certificates and Parish Records

Copyright Issues with BMD Certificates and Parish Records

While thinking about my next post, a though occurred to me… Am I breaking any copyright laws by publishing images of birth, marriage, death certificates here, on Walking with Ancestors?  And what about images of baptism, marriage and burial entries?  I decided to take a look at a few terms & conditions to see if I could make sense of any of their legal jargon.


Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates


TNA have produced a rather interesting PDF regarding the Reproduction of birth, death and marriage certificates which makes everything relating to the actual BMD certificates easier to understand.


Firstly, it is important to keep in mind that our BMD certificates are ‘certified copies’ of the register entry of an event.


The National Archives, General Register Office for England and Wales, General Register Office of Scotland and the General Register Office for Northern Ireland have all agreed that we are “authorised to reproduce certificates for all purposes” with two conditions.

  • Acknowledge Crown Copyright (which is something I need to go back and check).
  • Comply with both the Data Protection Act 1998 and Human Rights Act 1998 (the easiest way of adhering is to not publish anything about anyone who may still be living).


The guide expressly states that the authorisation to reproduce can include “publishing in a book or magazine, or placing a copy on the internet”.


One thing you can’t do with your reproduced image of the certificate though is use it as evidence that such an event occurred because the security features may be removed.




I love being able to download register entries of baptisms, marriages and burials from Ancestry.  However, am I able to reproduce them on my website?


This is actually where things get complicated… Their terms & conditions include:


  • We are only to download content that is relevant to personal or professional family history research. So no downloading collections… That’s pretty straight forward.
  • “Online or other republication of content is prohibited except as unique data elements that are part of a unique family history or genealogy.”
  • “You agree not to reuse these images or documents except that you may reuse public domain images so long as you only use small portions of the images or documents for personal use. If you republish public domain images, you agree to credit the relevant Website as the source of the digital image, unless additional specific restrictions apply. If you wish to republish more than a small portion of the images or documents from any of the Websites, you agree to obtain prior written permission from us.”


The bottom line is… I think, please correct me if I am wrong, that we are able to use a small portion of images directly relating to a unique family history or genealogy on our blogs as long as we credit the relevant source.


Find My Past


Find My Past have a small section relating to Intellectual Property Rights in Records in their T’s & C’s.


“You cannot use the Records to create your own work such as databases, articles, blogs or books, or copy or reproduce the Records (either in whole or in part), or publish them, for a purpose other than personal use, without our prior written permission (and/ or that of the Licensor of the Records).”


So it looks like FindMyPast are more explicitly against reproduction and publishing their records.


They even take it one step further by saying that you may not “create links to the Site from any other website, without our prior written consent”.


Scotlands People


Scotlands People is the one stop website for all things Scotland.  Their records are phenomenal in comparison to England and Wales.  But can I show you the records here?


Again, a quick look at the T’s and C’s and their Intellectual Property and Right to Use the Website section provided me with:


“Without prejudice to the foregoing generality, you must not produce and/or publish a digitised or facsimile copy of the materials and/or content within the Website. You agree not to assist or facilitate any third party to copy, reproduce, transmit, publish, display, distribute, commercially exploit or create derivative works of such material and content of the Website.”


I think, here, I’m going to say that it’s not a good idea to publish the records on your blog.   It is important to note though, that the image you download from Scotlands People is not the same as the ‘extract’ that would be provided if you order the officially certified copy of the entry.




While it is okay for you to publish a Birth, Marriage or Death Certificate on your blog so long as you acknowledge Crown Copyright and don’t reveal personal details of living people; records from are more of a grey area.

Find My Past and Scotlands People are a no go.


Although, baring this in mind, it is always worth crediting your sources when possible.  There are a few areas I’m unclear on so I will be emailing to clarify.  And will feed back responses as they come in.