Thursday, January 22, 2009

Is metadata part of a document? AZ court says no.

Here's an interesting article picked up by Peter on the archives listserv: the Arizona Court of Appeals has ruled that metadata is not part of a document and therefore not a public record. At issue was whether a Word file's hidden "properties" could be demanded, in order to prove that the creation date was the same as the date printed in the document text; the Court ruling says that it cannot. Only the document as it would appear in a printed version is public.

This strikes me as a wrong decision, or at least the wrong outcome (there may not be any case law on this issue to make a ruling either way technically incorrect). But then archivists have an expansive view of what comprises a document and may not see things the same way that a politician or other public official would. I expect this topic to get revisited, eventually at the federal level, before too many years pass.

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