Article Why Web Evidence Metadata Should Be On Every Litigator’s Radar

We’ve all heard the vague definition of what metadata is – “data about data.” But what does that really mean? And, how does it impact you and your web evidence?

You most likely encounter metadata on a regular basis. For example, an email or a Microsoft Word document holds metadata that you might not even realize is considered metadata. Details such as the time and date when an email was sent or a document was created is all considered metadata.

Why is it important for you to know as a litigator?

Collecting the right metadata for your online evidence could keep the opposing side from disputing the web capture. Having that extra information to support your evidence could be the difference between winning and losing a case.

In our e-Discovery Trends 2017: Web Content Collection report, we surveyed litigators from across the country and from various practice areas to learn what metadata they value most when collecting web evidence.

We were not surprised to find that many litigators are concerned about the admissibility of their web content captures when not using technology designed for legal. A whopping 73% said they feared they were not collecting content correctly or were violating the chain of custody.

Using technology that is designed for the legal industry’s unique needs, that captures the metadata to authenticate the web evidence, is one way to lessen those concerns.

In addition to our survey, we’ve come across many case examples over the last few years where web evidence was thrown out because it was deemed inadmissible (a more recent case was IL v. Lorenzo Kent).

To help combat these issues and concerns, we’ve fine-tuned the metadata our technology automatically collects so litigators and other legal professionals don’t need to worry about how and what information to capture during their collection.

Here is the most vital metadata that should be collected to support your web evidence, and why it matters:

  • Document Title – The official name of the web content, such as a webpage or video, can be used to further clarify its relevance and context.
  • URL – Recording the URL addresses where the data was found is important to show that the content being captured originated from a particular website.
  • IP Address – Collecting the IP address of the webpage being captured can help identify who served the content.
  • Timestamps – This could include time and date stamps for when web content was published or created, or geo location data to identify where a party was located at a certain time to dispute alibis.
  • Capture Tool IP Address – The IP address of the specialized browser being used to capture web content can support admissibility to show the capture wasn’t made on your server – thereby preserving the chain of custody.
  • Browser Engine – Different versions of browser engines can render web captures differently. Knowing the specific version that the capture tool used could help with clarification.
  • Operating System – Different versions of operating systems could have an affect on how web content is collected or displayed. Knowing the version and being able to present it if needed could help authenticate the web content.
  • Who Made the Capture – Having the user’s name who captured the web content is another way to preserve the chain of custody.
  • Custom Metadata – Sometimes you may need additional details around web content like a video or image. Working with an expert vendor to get exactly what you need can strengthen your evidence.

Read the full report on e-Discovery Trends 2017: Web Content Collection