RootsTech 2014

Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Yet again, another response about FamilySearch Family Tree

My dear friend Anonymous has once again chosen to leave a comment. This one is particularly aimed at FamilySearch Family Tree and leaves me wondering if all of my posts on the fact that "you don't own your ancestors" are going completely unread and unnoticed. Here is the comment:
Genealogy cannot be true genealogy unless it is based on true facts such as birth, marriage, death and other facts that can be proved. There is a lot of genealogy under Family Tree which is based on this basis, However, there is a lot genealogy based on factors such as 2nd opinions supported by Family Search which is destroying everyone's genealogy. I have worked on my genealogy for 55 years and have around 10000 files but Family Search is letting everyone into every other peoples genealogy to decimate, copy and destroy the genealogy. I have been trying for the past year and a half to save my genealogy but is a loosing battle with Family Search in charge. Now the only thing I am trying to do is get my genealogy off of Family Tree and save it.
I must say that this comment left me speechless for about 30 seconds (a long time for me). I am not quite sure what Anonymous's relationship is with FamilySearch.org's Family Tree. I sat there staring at this comment for some time, trying to gather my thoughts and come up with something coherent to say about this person's predicament. I must admit that I finally had to put this post aside for a while and think about what was written above. I even began to believe that it was a hoax. Hoax or not, it is an interesting quandary.

I guess I will take it a bite at a time.

Genealogy cannot be true genealogy unless it is based on true facts such as birth, marriage, death and other facts that can be proved.
Given all the posts I have written about defining genealogy, facts, proof and all that, I was puzzled about this comment. I think what Anonymous wants to say is that it is necessary to provide a source for entries in your family tree. I would certainly agree with that. I am not too sure about what I would consider "true facts" if those facts were based on documentary evidence. I would not be so sure that any given document provided "true facts" however. Every one of the types of documents named can be wrong in some cases.

There is a lot of genealogy under Family Tree which is based on this basis,
I am not sure what is "under" the FamilySearch.org Family Tree, but I assume the reference is to the fact that more of the entries on the Family Tree are being sourced all the time.

However, there is a lot genealogy based on factors such as 2nd opinions supported by Family Search which is destroying everyone's genealogy
I am not sure I understand what Anonymous thinks is going on here. I am also not certain how my genealogy is being destroyed. FamilySearch Family Tree incorporates over 150 years of combined research. Admittedly, some of the entries are wrong, however the structure of the Family Tree (a wiki) allows everyone to make corrections and enter supporting sources. None of these changes come from "Family Search" and FamilySearch is entirely neutral on the content unless it is objectionable in some way. It is up to those members families on the tree to correct the information. Apparently this concept is lost on Anonymous. There is nothing on the Family Tree that can destroy anyone's genealogy. It is very wise to have your own copy of your own files if you can't understand why and how the entries on a wiki will continue to change.

I have worked on my genealogy for 55 years and have around 10000 files but Family Search is letting everyone into every other peoples genealogy to decimate, copy and destroy the genealogy.
This statement seems to be a repetition of the previous one. I am not sure what 10,000 file means, but I assume that means that the person has 10,000 people in his or her database file (I always suspect round numbers since they are inevitably wrong). Since the Family Tree is unified, technically everyone in the world has their entire known family on Family Tree. Actually, it is still under construction and will be as long as there is any information left to add, but the actions of the contributors are not decimating or destroying anything. The serious issue I see here is the mention of the word "copy." Apparently, Anonymous is one of those people who do not want to share his or her research. Well, after 55 years, I suppose it could all be lost anytime now. One thing I can say for certain, if you or anyone else fails to share their "genealogy" with others, all their work will be lost. I hope Anonymous has a family member that will still talk to him or her and is willing to preserve all of the 55 year's worth of research.

I have been trying for the past year and a half to save my genealogy but is a loosing battle with Family Search in charge.
This statement assumes two false premises, one that FamilySearch is "in charge" of the data in the Family Tree and second, that there is some issue here with saving Anonymous's genealogy. I find that many people using the tree think their conclusions are right and everyone else is wrong. I wonder if Anonymous is putting sources with all 10,000 of the entries on the Family Tree? I am also wondering how he or she got all that information into the Family Tree in the first place and how many duplicates were made in the process? The users of the program, including Anonymous, are "in charge" of the data. I also wonder how many other family members Anonymous has contacted about helping maintain and correct the Family Tree? I might also point out that the Family Tree is still a work in progress and more information is still coming into the tree from the 150 years of accumulated research that is sitting out there to be corrected and merged. I hope Anonymous has his or her own copy of all that 55 year's worth of work or it may really be lost.

Now the only thing I am trying to do is get my genealogy off of Family Tree and save it.
This is the most puzzling statement of the entire comment. How does one go about getting their genealogy out of Family Tree? Short of manually copying the entries or using a program such as Ancestry.com, RootsMagic.com, Ancestral Quest or Legacy Family Tree, I am not presently aware of a method of getting information out of the Family Tree. Once again, here is another claim of ownership which I see as the root of the problems expressed by Anonymous. It does not sound to me as if this person has heard of the word cooperation before.

I continue to be amazed every day at the attitudes expressed by some in the genealogical community, but I am glad for the comments because they keep me thinking and writing.

Off to Mesa, Arizona this week to the Mesa FamilySearch Library Conference

We are off to Mesa, Arizona this week for a brief visit to our home that still has not sold and to present at the Mesa FamilySearch Library Conference. Some of the homes in our area of Mesa have been on the market for almost two years. We are thinking of alternatives since there appear to be almost no qualified buyers. Unfortunately, we will be "off the Internet" for most of the time we are gone this week, so take some time to read some of the past posts your missed. I will post when I can during the week, but will be back and writing away on Monday, the 3rd of November for sure.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Changes at the Family History Library - More than Decorative



I got a post from FamilySearch entitled, "Exciting New Changes at the Family History Library." The changes are summarized as follows:
In an effort to beautify the Library and to enhance guest services and research specialist interactions, the reference desks on the B1, B2, and 2nd floors are being removed and new consultation areas are being placed on each floor. For example, the B1 International floor has separate reference areas for European, Nordic, and Latin American help integrated into the guest areas of the floor. A comfortable welcome area resides where the old reference desks used to be. The remodel will be complete by November 2014.
I am not sure that showing the Library completely empty gives you an idea about how this new set-up is going to work. Every time I have been there the last couple of months, I have found all of the areas to be crowded. I am not sure that having a couple of chairs and couch is going to be adequate for the people who need help. I am aware that they have cut their permanent, employed staff and transitioned to more volunteer consultants. I am guessing the next change is related to this reduction in employees:
New Service Model—In addition to the new reference areas, we have also implemented a new guest services model. To help guests get the assistance they need without waiting in lines, we have added a guest paging system. Volunteers are still available on each floor to help with questions, though when additional expertise is needed, guests can sign up for a consultation with a specialist during daytime hours Monday–Friday. To sign up, the guest can visit with a scheduler who will give them a restaurant style pager. The guest can then continue their research anywhere in the Library. Once paged, the guest returns to the welcome area of the floor where they will be greeted by a research specialist. The paging system is in use for B1 and B2, and will be available on the 2nd floor once the construction is complete.
This change comes complete with a "restaurant style" pager:


I am not quite sure what I am supposed to do if my question concerns the research I am supposed to be doing anywhere in the library. At some of the popular restaurants with pagers, I am always concerned about wandering off on the chance that I get out of range of the pager. Am I supposed to leave all my research papers, computer etc. somewhere in the library while I go back to the place to meet the consultant?

The next changes are interesting. they include the Family Story Booths on the main floor and a children's area. I was recently in the Library for a couple of days and stayed near both booths and the children's play area. I did not see either of the booths used or any children in the play area. From my two-day experience, I wonder if they are being used?

Interesting changes, I will be in the Library all week, October 27th through the 31st. I will give you all some more opinions about the changes after my week in the Library.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What happens when I upgrade my computer?

By Wgsimon (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
This is a plot of CPU transistor counts against dates of introduction. Note the logarithmic vertical scale; the line corresponds to exponential growth with transistor count doubling every two years.
Transistor counts for integrated circuits plotted against their dates of introduction. The curve shows Moore's law - the doubling of transistor counts every two years. The y-axis is logarithmic, so the line corresponds to exponential growth.

Upgrades to both hardware and software are a fact of life for anyone owning a computer system. The graph above illustrates Moore's law which has been, more than predicting, but also driving the computer chip industry since 1965. Quoting from Wikipedia: Moore's law:
The law is named after Gordon E. Moore, co-founder of the Intel Corporation, who described the trend in his 1965 paper. His prediction has proven to be accurate, in part because the law is now used in the semiconductor industry to guide long-term planning and to set targets for research and development. The capabilities of many digital electronic devices are strongly linked to Moore's law: microprocessor prices, memory capacity, sensors and even the number and size of pixels in digital cameras. All of these are improving at roughly exponential rates as well. This exponential improvement has dramatically enhanced the impact of digital electronics in nearly every segment of the world economy. Moore's law describes a driving force of technological and social change, productivity and economic growth in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
I have been living with these changes now since I first became intensely involved in computer technology in the early 1980s even though my use of computers dates more than ten years before that time. I am sitting here staring at an Apple iMac computer that is now so old that the current operating systems will not run and the computer has become little more than an attractive looking dust collector. You should be able to see that if the entire computer/mobile device/camera industry is changing every two years or so, the longer you keep your current computer (or whatever device), the more likely you are to have problems with compatibility. You can expect that after about five years, you computer will not be able to be upgraded to new system changes.

Now a word about operating systems. Operating systems are the software programs that let you communicate with your computer. Every time you use a computer or other computer-run device, the operating system has to start (boot up) before you can use the computer. All the keyboard commands, mouse, touch pad or touch screen commands are utilizing the operating system. In order for computer software programs to run on your computer, those programs must be compatible with the operating system version running on your computer. In turn, the operating system is designed to work with certain versions of the microprocessor, the engine that runs your computer.So every time you buy a new computer, it is likely that you will have a "new" version of the operating system. For example, right now if you were to go out on the market and look for a new Windows computer you will find low prices on "last year's model," that is, now that there are newer computers with Windows 8.1, there are still machines being sold with the older operating system, Windows 7, at a reduced price. However, there is another issue here. Windows 8 (and 8.1) have been less than popular and retailers are selling Windows 7 installed with the option to move to Windows 8.1. Right now on the Dell Computer website, there are Windows 7 "deals" being offered.

Computers are not like cars where the year-to-year changes are cosmetic in many cases. When a new processor is introduced the entire system has to change. In many cases, all of the existing software has to be upgraded (rewritten to work with the new operating system). Whether or not any existing program will "run on the new operating system" depends on how closely the program was tied to the operating system. There are some really old programs, such as Personal Ancestral File or PAF, that seem to keep operating notwithstanding multiple operating systems upgrades, but most of the software programs either upgrade to the new system or disappear. I might note that the danger of depending on a program as old and out-of-date as Personal Ancestral File, is that at any time a change or upgrade to the system could render the program inoperable.

Some people look at the cost of a new computer and fail to calculate the cost of upgrading or purchasing new software. Some companies give a price break on their upgrades, charging less than the full purchase price of a new program. From the standpoint of genealogists, the danger is that the new computer and operating system will not be compatible with your existing program and you may not be able to move your program and its database to the new computer. This problem can be avoided by migrating the data to a newer program if that is possible or storing your entire family tree on an online family tree program. It is very likely that the browser program (Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, etc.) you use to access the Internet, will likely be upgraded constantly without your being aware of the changes.

But what about keeping the same computer for an extended period of time? What are the consequences of failing to upgrade your hardware (computer system)? Well, again, unlike a car, you can't just keep repairing it and keep using it for years and years. The longer you go without upgrading both your hardware and your software, the greater the danger of incompatibilities that will threaten you with a loss of your entire data files, i.e. you can lose everything on your computer. One common result of a computer failure is a loss of the data. This can possibly be avoided by backing up the data but there is also the danger that the backup will be incompatible with any newer system. This happens with genealogy programs regularly. Sometimes another company will try to "capture the market" by supporting the dead program for a while but you cannot count on this continuing for a very long period of time. A good example of this is the recent demise of The Master Genealogist (TMG) program. Rootsmagic.com announced support for the databases from the dead program, but that is not likely to continue for and extended period of time, especially if there is an intervening operating system upgrade.

Technology changes constantly. It is time to get used to it. Computers are tools and, like any tool, subject to the wear and tear of use. Like any tool that becomes worn out, it should be replaced with a better tool.

The Scale of Time

If you walk along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon near Grand Canyon Village, you will find the remarkable "Trail of Time." Quoting from the website,
The Trail of Time is an interpretive walking timeline trail that focuses on Grand Canyon vistas and rocks to guide visitors to ponder, explore, and understand the magnitude of geologic time and the stories encoded by Grand Canyon rock layers and landscapes.
As you walk along the rim, there are rocks selected from the different layers in the Grand Canyon. The distances between the rocks on the trail are representative of the scale of the time it took the rocks to form.

If you read this blog regularly, you are probably very used to asking yourself, what has this go to do with genealogy? However, in this case, the analogy is almost perfect. Just as geologists studying rock layers go back in time and look for evidence of changes and conditions, as genealogists we face the same challenges. We are standing on the Rim, so to speak, of our ancestral family, trying to reconstruct the past by looking at the different layers of records left to us. Just as with geology, there may be a great unconformity. In geology, the Great Unconformity I am familiar with is the one observed by John Wesley Powell in the Grand Canyon in 1869.

Before we can even identify a gap in records analogous to the Great Uncoformity of the Grand Canyon, we must be intimately familiar with our own ancestors' time scale. Some would call this a time line, but the idea of a time line is the embed events your ancestors experienced in a wider context of history. The time line also serves the purpose of verifying the sequence of events so you don't have mothers having babies at 110 years old and people getting married before they are born etc. I am going beyond that to think of the scale of time, that is what the effect over all of going back in time had on the people. Here is an example:


This is a record from the FamilySearch.org Family Tree. This is one of my "direct line" ancestors. The photo indicated by the circle and arrow in the upper left is supposed to be a photo of David Shepherd. There is just one small problem. He was supposedly born in 1760 and died in 1832. Now, this is exactly what I mean by a consideration of the "time scale." It is obvious to anyone with a sense of the time involved in moving back into the 18th Century that there were a lot of things we take for common today that were not available. One of those is the invention of photography. Do you know, off the top of your head without looking it up, when the very first photograph was taken? This type of consideration is more than just a time line. You could put his life on a time line and absent the addition of this one fact, the date of the invention of photography, your time line would look just fine. The person who attached this photo simply had no appreciation of the scale of time involved in moving back 254 years into the past.

This sort of problem comes up almost every day as I help people with their genealogy. I have people come to me and complain that they have been searching for an extended period of time for an ancestor and when I ask the time period when the ancestor lived, without batting an eye, they respond with something like the early 1600s. Once again, they are operating without a clue as to the time scale they are dealing with. I am certain that I could quiz any one of these people and they would not have the slightest idea of what the conditions were like in the early 1600s. In fact, if my own experience is any indication, very few genealogists have ever read a history book that would even give them an idea about what was going on back then. Without any concept of the time involved, you might miss some things such as the translation of the King James Bible in 1611 and various important wars and events in England. Again, it is possible that constructing a time line would include some or all of these events, but what is lacking is an appreciation for the scale of time involved.

Going back to the 1600s involves more than just dates and events, it involves an understanding of the conditions of the common people and the types of records that have been preserved. In the early 1600s, the invention of the power loom and the beginning of the industrial revolution were still almost 200 years in the future. It might help you to understand what I am talking about to realize that the first English dictionary arranged in alphabetical order was published in 1604. See Wikipedia: Table Alphabeticall. You might have to think about that fact for a few minutes to grasp the importance that has for genealogical research.

Oh well, I could go on and on. Time scale is an appreciation for the changes that have occurred in the past, not just a lining up of a series of events that have little meaning with an understanding of the changes that occurred from the past to the present. You gain an appreciation for the scale of time by learning about history and then thinking about it in terms of the changes that occur to the lives of your ancestors. What did they eat? What did they drink? What did they die of?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Are Facts Subject to Copyright? In the U.S.? In the U.K.?

I received a very interesting comment to a recent post in which I made the statement that facts are not copyright protected. The commentator cited the following law from the U.K.
The 1997 legislation on Database Right states-
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1997/3032/contents/made
“Acts infringing database right
16. (1) Subject to the provisions of this Part, a person infringes database right in a database if, without the consent of the owner of the right, he extracts or re-utilises all or a substantial part of the contents of the database.
(2) For the purposes of this Part, the repeated and systematic extraction or re-utilisation of insubstantial parts of the contents of a database may amount to the extraction or re-utilisation of a substantial part of those contents.”
As you can see from the above even repeated use of insubstantial parts of a database could constitute breach of database right which is a form of breach of copyright.
And made the comment that therefore facts were, in fact, subject to copyright in the U.K. as was "work product" by reference to the phrase "sweat of brow." The full citation to the legislation referred to is the Copyright and Rights in Databases Regulations 1997 (the "Regulations"),

As with any such legislation, it is important to look to both the definitions contained in the legislation, if there are any, and any subsequent court decisions based on litigation over the provisions of the law. In order to fully answer these questions, it is first necessary to look at the law itself and then do some extensive research on subsequent litigation. In this case, the litigation search would have to extend to the entire European Union for the reason that the decisions of courts outside of the U.K. could have an impact on the interpretation of the law in the U.K. itself. You might note that this particular U.K. statute (law) is based on the Agreement on the European Economic Area signed at Oporto on 2nd May 1992, as adjusted by the Protocol signed at Brussels on 17th March 1993. In fully addressing this issue it would be necessary to review the EEA Agreement and any court decisions made subsequent to its implementation.

Considering the issue at hand, I would phrase one of the questions to be resolved as whether or not a genealogical family tree consisting of the names and pertinent data of a researcher's ancestors would be considered a "database" pursuant to the statute and if so, would a copy of this information by another family member, who was also a descendant of the same ancestors, constitute a violation of any rights conferred by the statute? Another question would follow as to whether or not the individual entries in the compilation of names etc. would be protected. I would also assume that the "family tree" in question was created by entering the names into a program of some kind that neither originated with, nor was organized by, nor created by the researcher.

The ultimate question to be addresses could be formulated as follow:

Assuming that the individual facts compiled in the family tree are equally available to any family member who is a descendant of the people in the family tree, does one particular family member have rights superior to all those other family members, merely by virtue of his or her compilation of source information that is equally available to all?

Let's see if the U.K. or E.U. law gives any guidance in answering any of these questions. First, I would refer you to a very good discussion of the topic of this particular statute in a post entitled, "Database Rights, the basics." However, I will refer directly to the copy of the statute cited above. It should be noted that the present statute is intended to modify and supplement the U.K. Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988.

I will forego citing the entire statute here in this blog post. But here is the provision defining a database:
“Databases
3A. (1) In this Part “database” means a collection of independent works, data or other materials which—

(a)are arranged in a systematic or methodical way, and
(b)are individually accessible by electronic or other means.

(2) For the purposes of this Part a literary work consisting of a database is original if, and only if, by reason of the selection or arrangement of the contents of the database the database constitutes the author’s own intellectual creation.”.
Now, this particular definition is very vague and broad. I can think of dozens of ways that this provision could be challenged in a court case. Now let's consider a further provision of the statute:
12 (2) The making of a copy of a database available for use, on terms that it will or may be returned, otherwise than for direct or indirect economic or commercial advantage, through an establishment which is accessible to the public shall not be taken for the purposes of this Part to constitute extraction or reutilisation of the contents of the database.
Of course we can never know the way this particular provision will be construed until there is a court case or series of court cases. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, the statute itself does not mention "facts" as such. It appears to me that the statute is primarily aimed at databases that are constructed from originally created information such as a list of employees or some such. Without a further clarification of the provision contained in Section 12 (2) cited above, it appears to me that if you make the database "accessible to the public" and the copy is not made for economic gain, then the "copy" is not a violation of the statute. If this is correct, then the statute, by its own terms, does not apply to a genealogical database made available online to the "public."

I suggest that if someone feels so strongly that their particular family tree on Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, MyHeritage.com, findmypast.com or some other database program is covered by this particular copyright provision, I would suggest that it would be necessary for those who care, to take the matter to court so the rest of us can benefit from the court's ruling. However, I think there are some really good arguments that the statute would be construed in a way that it would not apply to historical facts generally available to any researcher even if those facts were arranged in a family tree.

The post cited above refers to one E.U. case that has addressed this particular statute. The case is The British Horseracing Board Ltd and Others v William Hill Organization Ltd. But I will have to talk about that case in another post.

One last observation, online family trees such as those maintained on FamilySearch.org, Geni.com and WeRelate.org, are clearly outside of the statute's provisions simply by nature of the fact that they are not "collections of independent works, data or other materials" as used by the statute. I would point any doubters to the "Terms of Use" of each of these and other similar online programs. For example, the Terms of Use of FamilySearch.org contain the following statements:
By using this site, you agree to all of the terms and conditions set forth herein ("Agreement"). If you disagree with any of the terms or conditions, do not use this site. We reserve the right to change this Agreement at any time, so please check for changes to this Agreement each time you use this site. Your continued use of the site following the posting of changes to this Agreement means that you accept those changes. 
This site, which is dedicated to family history and genealogical research, is owned and operated by FamilySearch International (hereinafter "we", "us", or a similar term), a nonprofit organization that is affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ("Church").
It would be strange if the U.K. statute, which reserves rights to the originator of a database would ignore the very restrictions imposed by such an originator. The Terms of Use go on to state:
In exchange for your use of this site and/or our storage of any data you submit, you hereby grant us an unrestricted, fully paid-up, royalty-free, worldwide, and perpetual license to use any and all information, content, and other materials (collectively, "Contributed Data") that you submit or otherwise provide to this site (including, without limitation, genealogical data and discussions and data relating to deceased persons) for any and all purposes, in any and all manners, and in any and all forms of media that we, in our sole discretion, deem appropriate for the furtherance of our mission to promote family history and genealogical research. As part of this license, you give us permission to copy, publicly display, transmit, broadcast, and otherwise distribute your Contributed Data throughout the world, by any means we deem appropriate (electronic or otherwise, including the Internet). You also understand and agree that as part of this license, we have the right to create derivative works from your Contributed Data by combining all or a portion of it with that of other contributors or by otherwise modifying your Contributed Data.
In other words, notwithstanding any statutes preserving the rights of any database creators, those same creators can provide access to their "owned" database in any fashion they very well please. Again, if you feel strongly that you own your pedigree, then don't put it online, but don't try to disparage or discourage those in your own family who choose to share their genealogical information with others.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ownership and Genealogy -- What is and What is not Owned

Ownership is a complex concept. I have posted before on this subject and yet there is always more to say. Whole books have been written on just one or two aspects of the concept of ownership. I spent a great portion of my life in court arguing about the various aspects of ownership. There are huge amounts of folklore and fable that are engrained in our Western European society concerning this subject. Genealogists are not immune to the vagaries of ownership concepts. We have our own set of beliefs that have passed into the realm of urban legends, stories that take on a life of their own and refuse to die.

Persistent urban legends can sometimes be traced back to an innocuous factual event. For example, I usually refer to urban legends and similar stories as "alligator stories." This refers to the persistent legend that there are alligators in the New York City Sewers. According to contemporary news accounts as shown in the Wikipedia article "Sewer alligators," there really were alligators in the sewers.  So, what are the equivalent alligator stories perpetuated by genealogists?

Number one on my list is the concept claimed by too many genealogists that they somehow have acquired ownership of their ancestors. Unfortunately, unlike the germ of truth in the alligators in the sewer story, there really is no basis for this claim of ownership. The basic principle is rather easily expressed: all of the descendants of any particular ancestor have an equal claim upon him or her. Spending time and money to discover facts about the ancestor does not confer any rights to control or ownership. The confusion arises from the concept of copyright mingled with a dose of plagiarism and a dollop of the misapplication of a claim of work product. For all the beliefs stacked up in favor of the ownership concept, there is no legal, moral or any other type of support for the concept. In some instances, the concept of "ownership" when applied to genealogical research boils down to a simple case of ego. The claiming researchers want the recognition that goes along with spending time on a difficult subject.

Why do I keep returning to this topic? The answer is simple. I keep getting reminded of these claims to ownership, day after day.

Is there a point at which genealogical research can be subject to some arguable claim of ownership? Yes, if there is a legitimate copyright claim and then that portion of the work subject to a copyright claim would become the property of the copyright owner, i.e. the author of the work. To claim an ownership in any portion of your genealogical research you would have to show that you do not fall under any of the provisions of the United States Code: Chapter 11, Section 102 (b) which states:
(b) In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.
In addition, facts cannot be copyrighted. You would have to add some original work to the research rather than just the facts and even then, only the original work would be subject to copyright claims. The second principle is contained in the word "original" as explained in Subsection (a) of the same statute:
(a) Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Works of authorship include the following categories:
(1) literary works;
(2) musical works, including any accompanying words;
(3) dramatic works, including any accompanying music;
(4) pantomimes and choreographic works;
(5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
(6) motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
(7) sound recordings; and
(8) architectural works.
Tell me, if you can, which of these categories covers your pedigree chart and accompanying sources?

Where does genealogical research begin to be original in the sense intended by the copyright law? Only if you begin writing your own stories and embellishments to the history of your ancestors. But as clearly, stated in Subsection (b) cited above, claims of ownership to genealogical discoveries are not covered. In any event, copyright has a term. All works created prior to 1923 in the United States with the exception of some unpublished works are now in the public domain and not subject to copyright claims. Why then would you gain ownership of sources long free from any claim of copyright?

Neither plagiarism nor claims of work product imbue the claimant with any kind of ownership. Both of these types of claims have narrow, limited application to genealogical research. Out of courtesy, if we rely on the work of others, we owe them a moral duty to acknowledge their work, but this duty does not confer ownership on the originator. This is especially true for work published in an online family tree where there are perhaps others working and contributing on the same family lines.

The person claiming ownership faces a serious dilemma. Either they maintain their claim of ownership and never publish their research, in which case, the work is likely lost upon their death or they freely share their work with family members and give up their unfounded claims to ownership.

There is no other way to claim ownership of your genealogical research.