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Digitised microfilm viewing restriction query

Catalogue entry
An East-India register and directory
https://www.familysearch.org/search/c...
This is a collection of a number of books on microfilm.

The microfilms which have been digitised show the icon of a camera with a key. Previously I had a note which said these books could be viewed at a FamilySearch Centre, or FamilySearch Affiliate Library.

As a non Church member, I now get the message
"Image Unavailable. This image is unavailable for online viewing at this time".
This seems to apply to all the digitised microfilm in this record set, so presumably not a technical fault.

Does anyone get a different message? Any suggestions why these books would be withdrawn? As far as I am aware, all the digitised microfilms would be in the public domain as far as copyright is concerned.
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  • Yes there are restrictions according to various agreements made with record owners. Please see this; https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/...
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  • 1
    I get the same message as a member.

    Several possibilities exist, but considering that only a few of the films are indicated as to having digital images, my guess is that this set of records is currently unavailable because the digitizing process is incomplete.

    But I really don’t know what the situation is.
    • I saw a similar situation to this while serving as staff at my local FHC. Same problem... image not available.

      In other words there is some kind of restriction on the digital images that is likely a contractual issue that the owners of the original records has placed on the images that may not have existed for the films. It is a legal situation.
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  • I took another look at the catalog entry. This started life as a physical book or series of books or magazines. As such availability may be a matter of having only one copy. There was no indication of when the physical work was publisher and as such, the work may be still protected by copyright laws. We don’t have publication dates, only the dates for the records.

    The books are not available anywhere but at the main library in Salt Lake City and never were loaned to FHC or affiliate facilities.
    • What surprises me is that the work was filmed, but there is no WorlCat reference. Having submitted a personal work to the FHL, I signed a release allowing the Genealogical Society of Utah (now FamilySearch) to use the material as they best determined.

      I have no idea what conditions were established for the filming of the material and any provisions that may have been made for the digital images of each work. That may be affecting the availability of the images, which hopefully is a matter of finalizing a contractual agreement.
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  • Maureen

    It looks like some of the material is available at https://archive.org/search.php?query=....

    I typed "The India list civil and military" into the Search field of https://archive.org and got to the above page, which appears to have at least some of the books available from this collection.
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  • 2
    Weird - I tried the very first one (1803-1805 editions) and got the message "can be viewed only at a FamilySearch Centre, or FamilySearch Affiliate Library".

    The rest came up "This image is unavailable for online viewing at this time."

    Then I retried the first and got "This image is unavailable for online viewing at this time."

    To be honest - if it really did behave like that (i.e. if I'm not going daft) - that behaviour and the error message sound more like an error??
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  • 1
    This should probably be reported on the catalog page with the "Errors?" button. With the other record that behaved inconsistently, that's what I did but instead of writing down what record I was reporting, I just reported the problem. This one, because it is appearing in this forum, can be checked a week or so after reporting the inconsistent behavior.
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  • Thanks for all the comments and suggestions. In terms of Tom's last post, I have reported this issue on the catalogue page using the Errors button.

    I look at this catalogue entry from time to time to check on the digitisation of the microfilms, as FamilySearch has a very extensive collection of this publication, The East-India Register & Directory

    There are a number of editions online (even including Ancestry), and in fact FamilySearch elsewhere has the 1808 version online, https://www.familysearch.org/search/c...,
    but FamilySearch appears to have the most complete collection, so I am hoping in time the whole collection will become available.

    (For those interested in sources for the British in India period, see
    https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Directories_...
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  • The error button on the catalog page is not for reporting problems with the films or digital images. The "Error " button is used for reporting catalog errors meaning mis- spellings, years wrong, titles etc. When you click on it it indicates " Please report any problems with this record. If there is a note indicating that it is a preliminary description, corrections may not be made until later." Really not clear and it has been requested to clarify it better but when you report problems with the films , images or permissions using this method it's not forwarded. The Knowledge article gives the following reason for usage of the Error button:
    Possible Problems
    Errors in catalog titles
    Entry is wrong. For example, the catalog entry shows the record covers a span of years, but the actual content covers different years or some years are missing. Or a patron clicks a link to a record and a different collection appears.
    The red link in the catalog does not take the patron to the online record.
    The catalog search is not working properly, going to the wrong location
    • view 3 more comments
    • 1. It's already been beta tested. This is to see the kind of responses and if they are of value, make a difference or if not needed. You can't really get that from the non-production site.
      2. I have no control over this. I am just passing the word along what the function does and doesn't do.
    • Phil

      Are you a FamilySearch employee, then? I understand employees have been directed to indicate this fact in their logo / profile.
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  • 1
    Phil, if the system is indicating that the images are viewable in the catalog and they come up with "This image is unavailable for online viewing at this time," then the entry needs to be looked at with respect to the images. The general blurb about why digital images are not available is fine until there is a conflict between the catalog and the images.
    • Oh, and how would we find that knowledge article? Or even know of it's existence?

      The ka's cannot listed and the search system in the help system is still pretty much, "guess the right keyword to find what you want."
    • They should be looked and the current process is to call in or use the feedback button to generate a case. The error button is a test cataloging is doing to see if it has value. The message "This image is unavailable for online viewing at this time," has many meanings including a new feature that is being tested.

      You are right finding the right keyword in the KA's can be hard. FS is looking at other ways to make it easier and complete re-writing of the KA's is being done currently to standardize and add keywords so the search KA feature finds KA's better.
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  • 1
    This entry - https://www.familysearch.org/search/c... - comes up with a list of films - when tried at a FHC - with my LDS account - the first film displayed ok - but all others came up with the "Image Unavailable" message . . . as did a re-try to view the first film.

    However . . . repeated attempts to view any of the films did actually successfully display each of the films correctly.

    Just like an old motor car - seems to need warming up - Technology! :-)
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  • 1
    The problem seems to be partially resolved.

    I just checked the catalogue entry, and all the digitised microfilms, except one, now show the restriction, as in the past, that these films could be viewed at a FamilySearch Centre, or FamilySearch Affiliate Library.

    One still showed the message "Image Unavailable. This image is unavailable for online viewing at this time". However, when I accessed this record a second time, it
    then showed it could be viewed at a FamilySearch Centre, or FamilySearch Affiliate Library. This changing message is consistent with Adrian's experience, when he said
    the error message sound more like an error.

    While pleased that the message about restricted viewing is mainly correct now, it's too bad if some one goes to the trouble of visiting a FHC or Affiliate Library, and the error message comes up there, and they can't view the film.

    I just see that Stewart Millar has posted a reply which confirms you can get varying messages. Thanks to Stewart for trying out these films at a FHC and confirming that the films became viewable.

    Presumably this situation could happen with any film viewed at a Family History Centre or Affiliate Library. How is one supposed to know that you need to keep trying?

    This seems to me to be a problem that needs to get fixed.
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  • 1
    I decided to plan my next visit to my local Affiliate library so went to the Catalog to check-out availability of a number of films I wish to view. In spite of only recently having viewed some of them there everything seems to be displaying the, "Image Unavailable. This image is unavailable for online viewing at this time" message.

    Is this indicative of a return of a previous bug or are all digitised films with restricted access now appearing with this message when being checked, say, from home?

    Two examples are Film # 100267775 and one at https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/619..., which does not have a film number against it.

    It would be good to know in advance what chances there are of viewing this material at the Affiliate.
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  • 1
    Here are the screen shots to illustrate the problem. Taken within minutes of each other, they show the same film number but with two different messages.

    Would be grateful if FamilySearch engineers can investigate and/or advise what is causing this. Many users would have given up with a search on getting (as I have) the second message first! (Please see Stewart Millar's comments of 1 month ago.)



    • I have just looked at some records (Catholic German church records) which are restricted to FHCs and ALs only (for both Latter Day Saints and non-members) and from a home computer get the second message that you got.

      See also https://getsatisfaction.com/familysea... where the "image unavailable for viewing at this time" mislead me into believing that record access restrictions had been changed.

      I hope that FS can fix the problem quickly. I also think that the wording "image unavailable for online viewing at this time" should not be used due to its vagueness. If a temporary bug is causing the problem, the message should be something like "these images are temporarily unavailable, please try again later". If permanent, a microfilm symbol should appear beside the film in the catalog.
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  • 1
    I am still having the problem illustrated above. Stewart Millar has given the good advice to repeatedly click on Reload / Refresh when the "This image is unavailable for online viewing at this time" message appears, but this problem really does need to be resolved.

    Tonight I reloaded the page about ten times before I finally got the correct message ("To view this image....."). Surely most users are believing the original message and giving up straight away, thereby missing out on the opportunity of viewing these (albeit restricted access) images.

    Very sad the engineers have not been able to fix this problem.
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  • 2
    There is a group of 521 microfilms "Parish register transcripts from the Presidency of Bengal, 1713-1948"
    https://www.familysearch.org/search/c...

    The last time I looked, for non LDS members these records were only available at FamilySearch Centres (not Affiliate Libraries) . I wanted to check the current status, as I was thinking of replying to another topic.

    I tried about 10 different digitised microfilms in the series, and ALL gave the message "This image is unavailable for online viewing at this time" , As Paul said in his post above, this problem really does need to be resolved.

    I am coming to the view that there is not much interest by FamilySearch in records , (or even finding out about records) which must be viewed at a FHC, which on the whole affects non LDS church members. Presumably FamilySearch doesn't think
    it worthwhile fixing a computer problem which mainly applies to non church members.
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  • If this really is the case (the lack of any response to this issue does suggest this) it is a case of, "Your loss". Non-LDS must be adding tens of thousands of records each year to Family Tree, many of which will benefit those Church members who have been previously unable to trace their relatives' records. Messages I have received from LDS folks have shown how useful our contributions are. For example, many English records are not available on the main websites, so our direct access to record repositories here in England can be a great help to LDS members living in north America, Australasian and elsewhere.

    When drawing up future contracts (or renewing existing ones) please consider the importance of non-LDS users in adding evermore names to Family Tree. But, specifically, please sort out the bug that is providing us with false information about what is actually available for us to view.
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  • For this issue
    There is a group of 521 microfilms "Parish register transcripts from the Presidency of Bengal, 1713-1948"
    https://www.familysearch.org/search/c...

    I checked and the films are LDS or FHC no affiliate yet. I was able to view them at a FHC using a public account. I looked at the contract and it doesn't say affiliates which means the contract either hasn't been reviewed for access or the records keeper hasn't give permission. Based on the fact the contract hasn't been updated in some time I would say it hasn't been reviewed. I know you are going to ask when ? With 100's of thousand contracts in review I can't say when.
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  • Also see the topic Paul has posted
    BUG - "This image is unavailable for online viewing at this time" message.
    https://getsatisfaction.com/familysea...
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  • I have just posted in Paul's topic , which he first wrote March 24, 2019 17:44,
    BUG - "This image is unavailable for online viewing at this time" message. https://getsatisfaction.com/familysea...

    that I am still having problems.

    Given that I first had problems with this BUG in January (this topic was commenced January 03, 2019) is it ever going to get fixed? And although it is encouraging to see Phil Jeffrey, Employee make comments, I don't think his last post of March 24, 2019 addresses the question of this BUG, or when it, if ever, is going to be fixed.
    • This is quite a serious bug in my opinion. There is a considerable proportion of the online films which have some sort of restriction on them. This error makes it very hard to find out what the restrictions are for them. I would guess that hundreds if not thousands of users have seen that message and assumed that the film had been taken offline. Especially if they are new to FamilySearch or genealogy they may be seriously discouraged about using the FamilySearch site and may use alternative websites instead.

      I think FamilySearch should, as I have said before, change the wording of the message to make it clear it is a software issue and not a contractual issue. It might also be a good idea to write a blog article about this and/or write a post of their social media pages.
    • A van I found a bigger bug that what is said is there, I found it about 2 yrs ago and the church still has not fixed the (blanken) thing and it effects all church members and I am very very (blanken) mad at them! and I am debating if I should give it to the Press or put it in the open. That way it will make them look a little bad, maybe than it will get fixed or I can find the blanken answer I need concerning it!
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  • Well to be honest. I would love to say it will be fixed next week but we have such a large back log the average time is years to fix due to limited resources. Here is the email we send when a case is opened. I know that is discouraging.

    Thank you for contacting FamilySearch. We appreciate you taking the time to let us know of the errors you found in our historical records collections. We value patron support and feedback to help discover the errors that have occurred during our publishing process. We are working on ways to minimize future errors to provide the most accurate historical information possible. We have documented the errors and reported them to our records team. We currently have a backlog of corrections regarding our historical records. As a result, it could take longer than a year to correct the errors. Since this has been reported, we will close your case.
    We hope for your continued success as you search and find your ancestors.
    • view 2 more comments
    • The problem again is it's not a blanket bug it's an individual film bug. This means while it can be fixed for say this link each one reported has to be fixed individually one at a time.
    • I wished that Family search would not add any more features and focus on the other issues.
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  • I don't think it is an individual film bug.

    I think it is a bug affecting digitised records which have a camera icon with a key above i.e. records which for non church members are available at a Family History Centre. There are too many instances of them for it to be an individual film bug.
    • I agree that the bug likely is a global bug rather than something affecting a few individual films.

      I would sincerely hope that the bug does not have to fixed one film at a time. That would take years and be very boring and a waste of time for the people who have to make the fixes. The fix should be able to be done at all once via computer programming- avoiding repetitive tasks is after all one of the main reasons computers were invented.
    • Phil

      Yes, I would agree with that, too. This problem applies to so many films that it cannot be regarded as anything other than general.

      Your response to this issue is really most disturbing. Potentially it is causing a lot of harm regarding helping users finding important details about their families. If FamilySearch is really sincere in wanting to encourage this work problems like this must be escalated and prioritised.
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  • I am sorry you may disagree with me but you can call it into support and open a case if you wish.
    I can say this. Think about it if it was Global it would affect every single Restricted film but it doesn't.
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  • 1
    The excuse being offered that this is caused by a procedural issue that will take significant time does not explain what I have experienced - see my earlier response - explaining that repeated sequential attempts to view the film has in the cases I examined changed the message being displayed from "Image Unavailable . . ." to being available at a FHC . . . and when attempted at a FHC has, after repeated sequential attempts, successfully displayed the film.

    Any explanation for this?
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  • 1
    The answer being given on behalf of FS are inadequate in my opinion. They need to admit the extent of the problem before being able to resolve it.

    As an experiment, I just chose a random restricted record from each of Germany, Portugal, England, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand. Only the Portuguese film- Catholic records from Lisbon came up with the restriction, all the others had the "Unavailable at this time" message. So the proportion of restricted records may not be exactly 100% but based on my experience and those of several other users is quite high, perhaps over 75-80%. That is essentially a global problem.

    Yesterday I noticed the monthly blog post about new records on FS. That obviously takes a lot of resources from FS and is something we are all very grateful for. But what is the use of adding new records if the restricted records are having these serious problems. I suggest that FS needs to put quality over quantity in this instant. If FS needs to over the next few weeks devote more resources to fixing this problem and delay adding some records until this is fixed then so be it. It is pointless and a waste of resources to be putting records online that cannot be accessed properly.
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  • 1
    "The problem again is it's not a blanket bug it's an individual film bug. This means while it can be fixed for say this link each one reported has to be fixed individually one at a time. "

    Phil, My problem - and I suspect the problem that a lot of other people have - is that we don't understand how this can be an individual film bug. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't and comes up with this vague message:
    "Image Unavailable. This image is unavailable for online viewing at this time". .

    And I emphasise "vague message". It doesn't come up with a clear explanation that it's a/v at XXX or YYY. And then sometimes, after hitting the Enter key often enough, we see either the images or a sensible error message.

    Now I for one don't understand how that can happen if it's an issue with the permissions on that film. Surely the permissions cannot change after hitting the Enter key 16 times? (Or whatever).

    Now, I have been found to be wrong many times in the past (and frankly I don't care being found to be wrong if we actually get the real answer out in the open). But if I am wrong then (a) I'm not the only one and (b) it would be really helpful if we could be told where we're going wrong. Bear in mind that many of us have a background in IT. (Sorry...)

    If, for instance, the permissions recorded against the film really do change depending on which data tables get picked up from which server, because the synching is adrift, then that is not a film by film error, that is a software error in the synching. (That may make no sense whatsoever, I don't mind).

    The truth is that we are seeing stuff that suggests tasks within FamilySearch are not completing - the screen about the Helper message ("Whom Do You Want To Help?" makes no sense because it comes up in the middle of a normal enquiry and suggests that some task is getting screwed. Which would make me more and more suspicious of an error message that is not explicit, suggesting half-completed tasks.

    Let me be clear that I'm concerned about the "Image Unavailable. This image is unavailable for online viewing at this time" message. Questions about why Bengal parish registers are now only available at FHCs are different and yes, I understand that will be on a film by film basis.
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  • I am sorry, I see no matter what explanation is given it will not make people happy. I gave you what I have, what I can give and that I have no control over what happens.
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  • 3
    The problem with that is essentially what you are saying makes no sense. If it were an item-level permissions issue then merely refreshing the view enough times to get the correct restrictions message would not work. All that would happen is that the vague error message would show up over and over and over and over and over again, ad infinitum.

    That is not what happens. After enough refreshes the correct access restriction message shows up. That means that the correct access restriction settings must be present at the item level. If that is true then the problem lies somewhere else. To me this sounds like a database timeout issue of some kind. Fetch the restrictions, fetch the restrictions, fetch the restrictions, oh dear time's run out, display vague error message being the essential server path.

    If there is also an item-level permissions problem then that too needs to be fixed. Bad cataloguing data and bad restrictions data are tremendously corrosive to trust in the database. Yes it's a lot of noddy-work that's hardly exciting, but it needs to be done.
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