(US-NYC) Records Access in Jeopardy NYC DORIS Regulations- ACTION REQUIRED #announcements
Jan Meisels Allen
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New York City is the one jurisdiction where everyone knows someone on their family tree has been-so for this issue we are all New Yorkers! The IAJGS Records Access Alert notified everyone on September 29 about the proposed regulations the NYC Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS) AKA the Municipal Archives, when they published the proposed regulations and scheduled a hearing on October 23, 2020, at 11:00 AM ET.
The Municipal Archives says it in their own words: “the Municipal Archives comprises the largest local government archive in North America…the Archives hold the records depicting the daily work of city government, including paper records…still and moving images, ledgers and docket books, vital records, cartographic materials, blueprints, and sound recordings.”
These are some of the egregious actions they are taking. We all know we have to pay something for the records, and that is not the issue. The issue is access and their proposal to license public records that are already paid by public funds! Let’s talk about licensing and access. If you purchase ANYTHING from the Municipal Archives/DORIS, vital records, tax records, photographs, videos, any item they have which includes the old Amsterdam records going back to the 1600s they want us to complete a form for their permission, and then charge us if they grant permission, to share the document/photograph etc. That means a genealogist who is hired by someone can’t just share the document with their client, or a hobbyist sharing it with their family- UNLESS they pay an additional fee and get permission. If you share that record with other family members, in online family tree, as proof for application to a lineage society, or in a printed history you are preparing for an upcoming family event you have to get their permission and pay their additional fee—you already paid for the record-this is double, triple, quadruple dipping!. DORIS says they can blanket license on anything and everything.
Under the rules, before you can do any of the items mentioned above, you are required to fill out a “Permission to Publish/Use Contract” (MA-45) and pay an additional $15.00 (per item) to “license” this image from DORIS. If you want to use a slide in a presentation that has a copy of the record—you have to get their permission and pay $15 for each record you want to include in your presentation. Researchers—if you want to share 50 copies of a certificate as part of your research you would have to get permission and pay $15 for each of the 50 copies or $750.00. If you want to publish your findings and include a copy in your article you have to get permission and pay $15.00 This is outrageous!
From the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&B) landing page : Licensing fees for public records created with taxpayer funds are illogical and an affront to the very notion of accessible public records. The fact that this practice has been ongoing for a number of years does not make it right.
This is their own words: Proposed changes to these rules modify the language to mandate licensing fees when using these public records for educational, scholarly, non-profit, and media use.
An analogy: If you go to the restaurant and order the meal you get charged $15.00 If you eat the meal you get charged $15.00 if you take home leftovers you get charged $15.00! Just replace the word meal for record and you get the idea!
The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&B) are spearheading the effort to get a mass response to these proposed regulations.
Go to their landing page for more information: https://www.newyorkfamilyhistory.org/access-alert
This is what you can do:
To access the proposed rules see: https://rules.cityofnewyork.us/rule/32136/
DORIS moved the rules from where they were originally in my September 29 post! You can click on the link in the URL above or go directly to: https://tinyurl.com/yydbzwbz
Original url: https://rules.cityofnewyork.us/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/doris_notice_of_opportunity_to_comment_on_proposed_rules_regarding_fees_and_access_to_municipal_archives_and_library_materials1.pdf
The public hearing is scheduled for Friday October 23, 2020 at 11:00AM Eastern Time. Deadline for submitting comments is also October 23, 2020—see below on how to submit your statement.
Information on how to participate by video conference or telephone is:
Internet Video and Audio. To participate in the public hearing, enter the
(copy and paste if it does not click)
If prompted to provide a password or number, please enter the following:
Meeting Number: 173 225 7395. Password: kjEZGpCu746
• Telephone. To access the hearing by telephone, dial +1-646-992-2010 United
States Toll (New York City) or 1-408-418-9388 United States Toll.
• Access code: 173 225 7395
You can submit comments several ways:
• Website. You can submit comments to the Department of Records & Information Services through the NYC rules website at: http://rules.cityofnewyork.us.
• Email. You can email comments to DORISrules@...
• Mail. You can mail comments to:
Assistant Commissioner Kenneth R. Cobb,
Department of Records & Information Services,
31 Chambers Street, Suite 305,
New York, N.Y. 10007.
• Fax. You can fax comments to Department of Records & Information Services, 212 788-8625.
• By speaking at the hearing. Anyone who wants to comment on the proposed rule at the public hearing may speak for up to three minutes. Please access the public hearing by Internet Video and Audio or by Telephone
using the instructions above. It is recommended, but not required, that anyone who wants to comment sign up prior to the hearing by emailing Gerald Rosero at: grosero@...
Please be active on this issue---we can’t be silent!
To access the previous postings on the IAJGS Records Access Alert about the NYC DORIS/Municipal Archives go to the archives of the IAJGS Records Access Alert at: http://lists.iajgs.org/mailman/private/records-access-alerts/.
You must be registered to access the archives. To register go to: http://lists.iajgs.org/mailman/listinfo/records-access-alerts and follow the instructions to enter your email address, full name and which genealogical organization
with whom you are affiliated. You will receive an email response that you have to reply to or the subscription will not be finalized.
Jan Meisels Allen
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee
I might add that Mayor DeBlasio is on WNYC New York Public Radio every Friday morning. Perhaps someone can call in to the question-and-answer radio show (Brian Lehrer show) and pose this egregious violation of copyright law questionto Hizzoner.
How can a document in public domain need licensing? Intellectual-property lawyers--where are you?
Stephen's suggestion is excellent. As one of my heroes, Jessica Mitford, once said: "You may not be able to change the world, but at least you can embarrass the guilty." This is a situation in which one can do both.
Teaneck, New Jersey