Do websites have a right to photograph graves?
WITH the current interest in family history and genealogy, the variety of sites online is no surprise.
Recently, by accident, I came across a website that has digitally photographed gravestones within North and North East Lincolnshire – not unique by any means as the habit of photographing gravestones is one that has been occurring for some years.
Those interested in family history will, of course, argue – perhaps quite rightly – that given that graveyards are deemed to be public areas not only do they have a right to do this but, in fact, they are saving this information for generations to come, given that, as is often the case with old gravestones, over a period in time they may erode.
However, photographing gravestones and benches of our long since departed ancestors is one thing, but should there be a point when the deceased still have close living relatives (ie parents, siblings or offspring) who may feel uncomfortable at the final resting place of their loved one being available for anyone to view, that taking photos becomes inappropriate?
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Or is it a case that what people don't know won't hurt them as to find these photographs you have to look for them, which unless you are interested in the subject you are unlikely to do?
Clearly seeking permission from the families to photograph the vast number of graves is unrealistic, as is banning all photography, but perhaps requests should be made to the parish or local councils or at least they should be made aware that such photography is taking place.
They can then notify those who visit the graveyards by placing a notice.
Certainly in the case of one of the cemeteries that has been documented, no such permission or notification has been received.
Following on from that, do you then have a right to respectfully request that the photographs are removed if you are not happy with them, or should that decision lay with the website owner? Presumptuous as it may sound, I'm willing to bet that most residents who have had the sad task of burying a loved one locally (certainly up to 2007) have no knowledge of these sites.
Perhaps people do not mind, but more importantly perhaps they should have a choice.
Mrs J Sparks, details supplied.
The Telegraph says
An interesting point to make. What do you think? A public site and matter of public record or too personal to be photographed close-up?