New Act Provides Procedures for Authenticating Official State Online Legal Material

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The Uniform Law Commission (ULC) approved the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act on July 12 during its annual meeting in Vail, Colorado. The act, which was inspired by the 2007 AALL National Summit on the Authentication of Digital Legal Information convened by then-AALL president Sally Holterhoff, is the culmination of many years of work by many AALL members. Most importantly, it is a significant achievement for AALL and for law librarianship. One of AALL's primary goals is to help ensure electronic legal materials will be preserved and that authentic copies of the materials will be made available at no cost to the public. We believe passage of this act will help us attain these important goals.

The final act was amended on the floor of the ULC meeting and has not yet been published, but it should be available online next week. We know from a ULC press release that the act establishes an outcomes-based, technology-neutral framework for providing trustworthy online legal material.

In addition, the act requires that official electronic legal material be:
  • Authenticated, by providing a method to determine that it is unaltered
  • Preserved, either in electronic or print form
  • Accessible, for use by the public on a permanent basis
Barbara Bintliff, a past president of AALL, served as the drafting committee reporter and deserves our thanks for her hard work over many months. Keith Ann Stiverson was the AALL observer at the drafting committee meetings and is to be commended for her work on this effort.

The drafting committee on the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act was chaired by Michele Timmons of St. Paul, Minnesota. Other committee members included: Jerry L. Bassett, Montgomery, Alabama; David D. Biklen, Hartford, Connecticut; Diane F. Boyer-Vine, Sacramento, California; Stephen Y. Chow, Boston, Massachusetts; Vincent C. DeLiberato, Jr., Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Gene H. Hennig, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Steven L. Willborn, Lincoln, Nebraska.

Now that the act has been approved by ULC it will be sent to the American Bar Association for review. As soon as the text is available we will send you a link. The act should be helpful as we work with our state legislators to ensure the adoption of safeguards for publication of official electronic legal material in the states.