The Right To Privacy

From the Library of Congress Web Site:

"A work that is created (fixed in tangible form for the first time) on or after January 1, 1978, is automatically protected from the moment of its creation and is ordinarily given a term enduring for the author's life plus an additional 70 years after the author's death. In the case of 'a joint work prepared by two or more authors who did not work for him,' the term lasts for 70 years after the last surviving author's death. For works made for hire, and for anonymous and pseudonymous works (unless the author's identity is revealed in Copyright Office records), the duration of copyright will be 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter." U.S. Copyright Office, Copyright Basics (Circular 1)

For your information - ANCESTRY publication Family History Etiquette, Ethics, Legalities This article originally appeared in "The Foundations of Family History Research" by Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, FUGA, and Loretto Dennis Szucs, FUGA in The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy.

Family historians who understand how etiquette, ethics, and certain laws affect their family history research are able to move through the research process with less difficultly than those who ignore such considerations. Good etiquette can open closed doors, attention to ethics can help you avoid being duped by false claims or plagiarizing other peoples’ work, and being aware of the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act will help you know which records you legally have the right to obtain.

Living people who are not already public figures have a right to keep personal information about themselves private, and they can collect legal damages, just as for a physical injury, if anyone violates that right. Other privacy laws of recent origin prohibit keepers of certain records, most of them governmental, from releasing personal information. These laws are directed at the record-keepers, and provide penalties if they are violated, but usually don't affect use of the same information obtained from other sources. Records that are coming under such privacy restrictions include birth, marriage, and death registrations for some years after the event, and records relating to adoption, schooling, employment, criminal activity, and health."

Please take care in distributing private information about your cousins and protect them from unethical use of this information.

Other suggested reading on this subject