Reading a brochure for a company named DocuLegal, I saw this phrase -- defensible chain-of-custody. In cultural heritage organizations, we want to know an item's provenance. If we don't know its history, we at least want to know that it is authentic. However, law firms need to know not only that a document' is authentic, they need to know its chain-of-custody (who had it and when). When you get into a court of law, you want to know that the documents you are presenting are what they appear to be and that you know where they have been (with the goal of demonstrating that they have not been altered).
Now think of our digitization processes. For companies that are digitizing legal documents or documents being used in litigation, keeping information on the chain-of-custody is important. Documents may need to be closely tracked and secured. The chain-of-custody as well as how they have been handled, what has been done with them, etc. needs to be clear. While we may not need that level of tracking, is there something we can learn from those who digitize legal documents? With our most precious materials, should we document the chain-of-custody in case questions or problems do arise? Should we get into the habit of doing this on all of the materials we digitize? (I'm sure some projects do this, but others may be more cavalier.)
Technorati tag: Digitization