The Digital Decision – a rationale


The Authoritative Digital Document



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The Authoritative Digital Document.

How authoritative is the Digital Decision? Should there be two versions – a digital version and a “print” version? The answer to the second question is that we are already there. Decisions are available in digital format from Judicial Decisions On-Line,5 Austlii,6 NZLii7 or any number of other databases as well as LexisNexis and WestLaw. Judicial Decisions Online makes it clear that the “file copy” of the decision should be treated as authoritative. The essence of authoritativeness or reliability lies in whether or not the two decisions are textually identical. If material is available on the Internet – say on You Tube – a link should be provided in BOTH the “print” and digital versions of the decision. The only difference between the two may be that the digital decision may have the video or illustration embedded within it. In the event that “link rot” renders “linked to” material unavailable, the digital version preserves the integrity of the decision. The print version (which should be printed from the digital document) will indicate where content has been embedded in the digital document.

The digital decision must contain identical text. It should include YouTube links.8 But it will also contain the embedded video so that a reader will not need to be connected to the internet to access the content on YouTube. The TEXT of the decision will be identical to the text copy. The reasoning process will be clear from the text. The multimedia content will be available either as a link or embedded. The only thing is that the multimedia will not "play" if one prints out the decision. So in reality the distinction between the text version and the digital version from a practical perspective, is a distinction without a difference because the reasoning process behind either decision will be transparent.




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