I would like to suggest to those who are contributors to the website, Find A Grave, to open their profile and add a short sentence or two giving users permission to use, save, or copy photographs of headstones. I know some of you will shout, No!, and will tell me that those photographs belong to you and how it was you who took the time to walk in the heat or cold through tall grass warding off snakes, bugs, and who knows what else to take that picture, but I want you to think about why sites like Find A Grave are so popular and how they embody the spirit of generosity that genealogists have come to rely on and enjoy.
I am a user and contributor on the Find A Grave website. The website has helped me find many an ancestor and I am very grateful for all those souls who take the time to walk through the cemeteries and create the memorials that I will likely never be able to see in person. In turn, when I have a death certificate or an obituary for an ancestor, if a memorial has not already been created, I take the time to post the information in hopes that it helps someone out there who might be looking for that particular gravesite and person. When my hunt for ancestors takes me to a cemetery, I, like countless others, take the photos, create the memorials, and feel good that, maybe by doing so, I helped someone that day.
I welcome you the use of my headstone photographs. I do not feel they are the creative, artistic photographs that the copyright laws intend to protect. I did not ask the headstone to pose in a stylistic manner nor did I wait for just the perfect sunset or sunrise before I snapped the picture. That headstone is not my personal property. In fact, I am very sure, that if you were to take a photo of the same headstone, it would look very much, if not exactly, like my photograph.
There are those on Find A Grave who, in their profile, emphatically state that they do not appreciate others using their photographs and demand that they not be copied, saved, or used. I guess that is their privilege and right to do so, but it saddens me that those who are so willing to share and help others are unable to have a simple photograph that they themselves would be able to replicate if only they could get to that cemetery. So I ask you, if you contribute photographs to Find A Grave, please think about what I have suggested. Edit your profile with a short sentence giving permission that will allow others to use your pictures of those headstones that you post. There are so many people who will thank you!