Posted on July 28, 2011.
Thanks for this report go to DGI member Amy Taylor, Washington College of Law, American University. For the DGI blog, Amy shares her notes from the session Authentication: the Evolution Continues presented at the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) annual meeting in Philadelphia this month. Take it away, Amy…
These are notes are from a session with Barbara Bintliff, University of Texas, Jamail Center for Legal Research, and Michele Timmons, Office of the Revisor of Statutes.
This session focused on the recently enacted Uniform Electronic Legal Materials Act (UELMA) passed by the Uniform Law Commission. Barbara Bintliff, Reporter for the UELMA spoke about the drafting process. Michelle Timmons, Chair of the UELMA of the drafting committee spoke about the law’s specific provisions.
The Uniform Law Commission is a non-profit, unincorporated association of about 350 members. By drafting uniform law acts in statutory areas that lend themselves to uniformity, they ULC is able to promote enactment of uniform laws by the states and thus bring uniformity to the law. Ms. Bintliff stressed that before the ULC will undertake the draft of a uniform act, there must be a substantial reason to anticipate enactment and that uniformity is a principal objective. Additionally, a uniform law, in and of itself, is not the law — it becomes the law in each state that enacts it. Enactment is everything.
Because technical standards and formats are evolving, and costs are an issue, the Act is outcomes-based and tech-neutral. The goal of the Act is to make possible the provision of online legal material with the same level of trustworthiness traditionally provided by publication in print. The Act requires 3 things from publishers: 1) authentication — the method of authentication is not prescribed, but the user should be able to determine that the work is unaltered; 2) preservation in either print or electronic format; and 3) that the material be accessible for use by the public on a permanent basis. (Text of UELMA)
The Act mandates that the following materials be covered, whether currently in effect or not: State Constitutions, Session Laws, State Codes and State Agency Rules. The Act permits the inclusion of the following materials: State Agency Decisions, State Court Rules, Reported Decisions of Specific State Courts, and Other Materials, which was added to include City, County, and Municipal Ordinances.
The state names a state agency or official as the official publisher with the authority to implement the Act. The Act applies prospectively, and provides that if material is published in electronic format only, then it must be designated as official. If published in print and electronic, then the electronic format may be designed as official. The official publishers are required to consider the most recent technical standards in an effort to keep the Act from being obsolete before it is even enacted. The Act does not address copyright issues, rules of evidence, and the relationship between the official state publisher and commercial publishers.
–Submitted by Amy Taylor