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Q: How to scan legal (contract) documets for a law firm ( Answered,   6 Comments )
Subject: How to scan legal (contract) documets for a law firm
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: iwoh-ga
List Price: $7.50
Posted: 16 Jun 2002 18:47 PDT
Expires: 23 Jun 2002 18:47 PDT
Question ID: 27667
I work for a law firm that wants me to scan documents into TIFF
format. They are HUGE files and very hard to work with.
The boss believes we need TIFF because it "prevents them from being
changed." I know better - TIFF files can be changed just like any
other file.

Is there a "legal" way to scan documents that can be "proven" to be
identical? I guess I am asking that would be "evidence" in a Court of

Any rulings or articles I can site would help me out.
Subject: Re: How to scan legal (contract) documets for a law firm
Answered By: morris-ga on 17 Jun 2002 08:29 PDT

The question is less one of the file type you create than the
immutability and lifetime of the recording media. The early solution
to permanent archiving of legal documents was WORM (Write Once Read
Many) drives, but fortunately, these expensive and balky solutions now
have competition from the sub $100 CD recorder. The key is to use the
CDR media (write only) not the CDRW (rewriteable) to create a
permanent, unalterable record.

A discussion of the subject from a solutions seller, including the
status of the related laws in 46 of 50 states, can be found on the
Archive Index Systems site at:

A quote from the Archive Index Systems site. 

"The first thing to remember is that in order for you to have a legal
database you must SET THE INFORMATION IN TIME. This is why many of the
state's laws say the media type MUST be an UNALTERABLE MEDIA."

You might be interested in this online Power Point presentation from
Lab Track which provides a digital notarization product. The
presentation cites many legal precedents for using their product to
replace paper notebooks in medical research labs, such that they can
be used as evidence in court.

As this last link from The Recording Authority reports, in terms of
archival life expectancy, estimates of CDR media lifetime range from
50 to 250 years!

I'm not an expert on anything legal, but I hope this puts you on the
right track.

Google Search Terms used

CD acceptable archive
CD legal archive court
Subject: Re: How to scan legal (contract) documets for a law firm
From: darcknite-ga on 16 Jun 2002 20:03 PDT
unfortunatly scaning a file into a computer using any means would
probably not hold up in court. Any file can be way or
another...however microsoft access has the ability to save files as a
*.snp and that file is uneditable after that... however the legal
matter of what happened from the time it was scanned to the time it
was placed in access and saved as a *.snp is another story... you will
also need a program to view the file... go to this page and it will
give more info... this is not an offical Google Answerer...just
someone who is bored...hee hee
Subject: Re: How to scan legal (contract) documets for a law firm
From: drw_jsn-ga on 16 Jun 2002 20:16 PDT
Realistically, regardless of file format, digital data can be
modified.  There's two options I guess to check if a file has been
tampered with:

1. Digitally sign the file - This way the signature can be verified
and the only person who can create signatures is the person who owns
the private key.  Note that the current algorithm of choice for this
is RSA.

2. Generate a hash of the file (CRC32, MD5) and keep the hash in a
secure place.  The file can be verified by regenerating the hash and
comparing it to the original (secure) version.
Subject: Re: How to scan legal (contract) documets for a law firm
From: darcknite-ga on 16 Jun 2002 20:18 PDT
"Clarification of comment"
Unless someone made a program that scanned and saved as an uneditable
file it would be impossible...however what would be stopping you from
scanning it into a program...swapping a few letters...printing it back
out again..and scanning it with this "possible" program...I am pretty
sure (not a lawyer) that in a court of law "no copy" is good... it has
to be the "original". Anyone see the movie "Changing Lanes". Ben Aflec
(spell check) had to have the original papers and not a copy or he was
in deep trouble... Oh well it was just a movie. And I am not a
lawyer...I cant even spell well.
Subject: Re: How to scan legal (contract) documets for a law firm
From: larre-ga on 16 Jun 2002 20:49 PDT
Two law firms I have dealt with (as a signer) have used Adobe PDF
format. While I have no information about the legal implications of
this format, once encoded with special Adobe Acrobat options, content
cannot be altered or repurposed.

Adobe Acrobat Security

Subject: Re: How to scan legal (contract) documets for a law firm
From: richardmay-ga on 17 Jun 2002 02:48 PDT
I was thinking about taking a position for a office supply company
selling a new product line.  This product line does just what you are
talking about.  I would scan documents into an image file and save
them in a secure manner.  Secure enough that a DA's office could
reproduce that document whatever years down the road and guarantee to
the judge that the reproduction was EXACTLY the same as the original. 
This system is called DOCSTAR.

I hope this helps.
Subject: Re: How to scan legal (contract) documets for a law firm
From: texast-ga on 17 Jun 2002 06:35 PDT
Expanding on drw_jsn-ga's answer - 

You might also check into the possibility (and legal-leg-to-stand-on
type of thing) of having a notary be the one to sign the document
electronically, with some sort of statement certifying that it's a
true copy of the original.  In other words, produce a certified,
notarized copy of the document in the electronic format.

I know in some venues or for some matters a certified notarized PAPER
copy is acceptable...  But would it fly if it's digitized?  I've no
idea.  And I'm NOT a lawyer - just someone who's had to use notarized
copies for some transactions where they were acceptable (or

Good luck!


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