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Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Would the real copy of the contract, please stand up?

Establishing authenticity of digital materials is a topic I have worked on for a long time now in the the context of electronic laws. The UELMA act[1],  the best records rule[2], federal rules of evidence[3], the OAIS model[4]  etc.

Nearly a decade ago now, I wrote an article for ITWorld called "Would the real, authentic copy of the document please stand up? [5]

I happened across it again today and re-reading it, I find it all still relevant, but Smart Contracts are bringing a new use case to the fore. The authenticity and tamper-evidence and judicial admissibility of digital laws is - I admit -  a very specialist area.

Contracts on the other hand....well that is a much much bigger area and one that a much larger group of people are interested in.

All the same digital authenticity challenges apply but over the next while I suspect I will be updating my own corpus of language to cater for the new Smart Contracts eco-system.

Old digital authenticity terms like content addressable stores, fixity, idempotent rendering, registrar etc. look like they will all have new lives under new names in the world of Smart Contracts.

Plus ├ža change...

I am happy to see it happening for a number of reasons but one of them is that the challenges of digital authenticity and preservation of legal materials can only benefit from an injection of fresh interest in the problem from the world of contracts.

[1] http://www.uniformlaws.org/Act.aspx?title=Electronic%20Legal%20Material%20Act
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Best_evidence_rule
[3] https://www.rulesofevidence.org/
[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Archival_Information_System
[5] http://www.itworld.com/article/2781645/business/would-the-real--authentic-copy-of-the-document-please-stand-up-.html