Peer to Peer Magazine

June 2012

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

Issue link: http://epubs.iltanet.org/i/67910

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best practices PDF/A Validation: A Must for Future- Proofing Documents by Kerry Carroll of DocsCorp PDF is dead, long live PDF/A! Well, perhaps not dead, but, as far as the courts are concerned, it is on life support. Late in 2011, the courts indicated that they would accept electronic filings in PDF/A as well as PDF. The PDF for Archiving (PDF/A) standard is not new. It has been under development since 2005 to meet individual and organizational concerns about accessing electronic documents in the future. Archiving documents in the digital age has presented organizations with a number of challenges, not least of which is the ongoing development and deployment of new software, which can prevent you from opening documents created in older versions of the software. Therefore, archiving documents in their native format is problematic. The courts have been early adopters of PDF, so the move to the PDF/A standard should be seen as being consistent with the development of archiving standards and technologies as we move from TIFF to PDF to PDF/A. The PACER website explains the move as follows: "PDF/A offers a cost-effective and efficient solution that [ensures] that electronic records are preserved far into the future. The change from PDF to PDF/A will improve the ability to archive documents and comply with requirements of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)." The short-term objective for law firms will be to ensure that their filings are accepted by the courts, but the long-term objective must be to ensure that all documents, and not just the ones In both cases, these invalid PDF/A documents may still display as valid PDF/A documents. submitted to the courts, will be accessible 50 … 100 … 150 years into the future. Law firms can achieve both by ensuring documents are validated against the standard. Standards Must Be Maintained Law firms cannot trust that a document is PDF/A compliant simply because it displays as a PDF/A document in a PDF reader application, or trust that the validation tool they bought years ago is still producing accurate results. A PDF/A document doesn't look any different from a "normal" PDF. "Trust, but verify" was a phrase adopted by Ronald Reagan, who used it frequently when discussing U.S. relations with the Soviet Union. A slightly modified phrase — trust, but validate — should become the mantra of law firms when working with PDF/A. It is important to validate PDF/A compliance at two different stages of the workflow. Here's why: • Documents received from external sources need to be checked since not all PDF creation tools produce documents that comply 100 percent with the PDF/A standard. • Documents need to be tested as the final step in the production and electronic filing process. A valid PDF/A document can be invalidated as a result of editing or inserting transparent images, for example, into the document. 10 Peer to Peer

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