i_s_knight 3:39pm, 30 May 2012
Hi All,

As people who regularly take and publish photos of graves I'd be interested in seeking your opinions/experiences with regard to making transcribed gravestone photos available to family history researchers for a small fee (like 50p) to cover the costs of hosting the photos.

Would this be considered unethical?

The reason I ask is that I have a privately hosted collection of 30,000+ fully transcribed and GPS positioned photos. I get regular requests for copies which at the moment I do for free if adequate justification is given but running webservices is not free!

inetjoker 9 years ago
I see no problem with a small fee. I mean you did take all the time to label encode and host them so a small finders fee to me would not be a problem. I think 50p may be not enough but you could also be flexible on this part depending on the customer.
alohadave 9 years ago
I wouldn't find it unethical, but I also wouldn't pay.

There are plenty of people who take a picture (on request) of headstones over at, for free, and many of them will transcribe too.
I think it sounds a great idea!
i_s_knight 9 years ago
@inetjoker, i don't really have a fee in mind but it wouldn't be much. it costs about £40 a month to host the images so if I were to open it up for the public and expand the storage i would like to at least recover the costs.

@alohadave, indeed, and I have received such requests to take photos 30-40 miles away for someone living only 200 miles away! I list the transcriptions and people find the entry in the list and request a copy of the photo. They may not otherwise have known that the memorial existed or at least not in the exact place.
Doctor Beef 9 years ago
Well, if you're receiving requests to take photos, absolutely you should charge, and make it worth your while. As for those you've already taken, yes, you should be allowed to charge. You've done the work, so why shouldn't you?
inetjoker 9 years ago
I really want to see how this thread goes. It has been a long time since we have had an ethics discussion or any discussion here.
Gofaz2.0 9 years ago
at 50p ago means u would need 80 customers a month to cover your £40 a months cost i would go to £2 each as u have done all the leg work and no i don't think it is unethical to charge for a service
x--Jeremy--x 9 years ago
I don't think the problem is as much ethics as it is operational. You'd need to maintain a shopping site in addition to photo cataloging. Therefore your costs in money and time increase as you add this. Do you have the knowledge and skills to do that, and do you want to?

Have you already tried asking for donations? It may be more simple and appropriate.
Pianowerk 9 years ago
I would cost out all your overheads to arrive a a price. Hosting costs are but one expense - for example, I assume you have to travel a bit to get this volume of photographs?

You could continue doing what you do ie for free but if you ramp up your price you may want to review your website and visibility of same to encourage more traffic - and this of course has a cost.
I have no ethical issues about what you are doing but an observation - I asked permission to take photos in my local graveyard, mainly of the cherry blossom and was told in no uncertain terms not to include any gravestones where the name could be clearly read.
inetjoker 9 years ago
All the cemeteries I photograph are Public. The difference between Private and Public does make a for another subject.
i_s_knight 9 years ago
Hi, thanks for the feedback so far. To answer some of your questions, yes, I am an IT consultant by trade, yes, I know how to build and manage websites and I host my servers at relatively low cost in the cloud, and no, I hadn't thought about donations :)

Basically i developed a website to host my personal family history research as a hobby and it just grew from there and now i'm considering opening it to the public and expanding the holding of images available to search (contributors welcome). I developed a transcription utility that uses the latest HTML5, CSS3, and Javascript techie stuff so images can be zoomed and the likes and I take pictures using an iPhone to get the GPS location data. On the website i can display images relative the cemetery and match same names in the proximity and other useful stuff.

I don't want to make any fortunes, I just want to cover my costs and hopefully share something that others would find useful beyond my own needs. I think legally I'm ok, just the ethical bit was bothering me, and i already apply certain conditions such as the age of memorial as i'm not interested in anything too recent.
inetjoker 9 years ago
I only see one problem. Proof they are a family member. There are many old Brass and Bronze markers out there and we know that with the price of scrap metal there is a thieves market for these items.

I just wanted to bring up another point and not cause any trouble.
i_s_knight 9 years ago
well i've heard tales of flowers being stolen from graves which is about as low as you could get but never of actual monuments being taken for scrap value (though some vandalised). I think the risk is low as these low lifes probably wouldn't be trawling cemetery photo sites looking for targets and the photo doesn't really identify the type of material used. as a matter of principle i don't photo anything "new" or clearly being attended so as to avoid causing any offence. thanks for the tips though, all food for thought :)
i_s_knight 9 years ago
btw, if anyone is after photos from the north wilts, berks, south oxon, south gloucs area then give me a shout :)
inetjoker 9 years ago
Well new is relative as nature takes things quickly. This was from a cemetery that was last used in the late 70s.
Sherlock Holmes True fate

I do understand that you were having a moral issue with this I just want to point out that so far every vote was on your side and at least you can put that point to rest.

Martin Siegel 9 years ago

I would not think it's not ethic to charge a fee, the more as you are only trying to cover the hosting expenses. 50p is really nothing - on the other hand I made the experience that people tend to think that your service is only worth 50p and that they do not honor the time and labour you put into it. I do like the donation approach mentioned earlier. A single donation of 5 £ will earn you the same money as 10 sold pics and there's a lot less administration involved. Together with a nice explanation why you are asking customers to consider a donation if they are happy with picture it can be more benefitial for to it that way.
If people as you to go to a specific place to take the picture of a certain grave and transcribe and GPS tag it you should ask more to cover up travel cost and time.

johnncox 9 years ago
As between setting a fixed price and allowing people to donate if they feel so moved, I would lean toward donation. The main reason is that I think asking for a donation would generate more revenue than setting a fixed price. Also, if you are photographing markers using reflectors to make the writing really jump out, then you are providing a product that most people could not duplicate themselves. So it's not just a matter of helping people out who can't travel to the location, it's also providing an image that they themselves could not produce.
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