The Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) is a uniform law that will establish digital preservation protections for "official" state government electronic legal materials by requiring that official publishers provide for the preservation and security of the records.
UELMA has been "targeted" by the Uniform Law Commission; states are encouraged to include it in their future/upcoming legislative enactment plans. The activity at the Uniform Law Commission's can be tracked at Legislation page.
The Act establishes a framework for providing online legal material with the same level of trustworthiness traditionally provided by publication in a law book, but it is technology-neutral when it comes to determining how this might be implemented in practice.
If legal material defined by the Act is published only electronically it must be designated "official" and meet the requirements of the Act. If there is a print version of the legal material, an official publisher may designate the online version "official," but the requirements of the Act to authenticate, preserve, and provide access must be met. Once designated "official," the Act requires the legal materials be:
- Authenticated, by providing a method to determine that it is unaltered;
- Preserved, either in electronic or print form; and
- Accessible, for use by the public on a permanent basis.
Once the law is implemented in a state, entities that had previously been neglectful of their authenticity and preservation responsibilities will be required to address them, jump-starting digital preservation operations nationwide. This will support the emergence of a robust marketplace and common practices that will enable increased interoperability of digital information and shared methods for preservation across the country.
- Butch Lazorchak, Official, Authenticated, Preserved, and Accessible: The Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (Apr. 19, 2013) (full-text).