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Legal signatures ramifications

Janet Kaul sends the following inquiry:

I would appreciate any insight. Please include my email, jmk@synopsys.com,
when you reply, as I am not subscribed to this list.

- Janet Kaul

-----Original Message-----

I'd adore it if anyone could give me insight on the following dilemma.

Our Legal department wants to put all of their contracts online for easier
searching and so they don't have to fax them to our salespeople. They are
scanning in signed contracts, as the salespeople need the signatures to
show customers.

However, they don't want anyone to be able to alter these contracts.
Apparently, by federal law, any facsimile of a contract with signatures is
still a legal contract, and we could be held liable for someone who has a
copy and somehow changes it.

We are scanning the contracts into Acrobat, putting them into a document
management system, and preventing anyone from saving a copy and changing
it on their desktop without a password (they have to be able to print to
take a copy to customers).

Of course, there is still always the opportunity to do a screen shot when
viewing, or print a copy out, scan it in, and edit it on the desktop
somehow. These possibilities are frightening our legal department into
abandoning putting contracts on line. They realize they face the same
possibilities when faxing contracts to the sales people, but it's on a
much smaller scale since not all the contracts are easily obtainable that

Has anyone else faced such a situation? How did you resolve it? Does
anyone have contracts on line in their systems? Does anyone know of any
changes to the law that might protect a company in these situations?

Any help is appreciated.

Janet Kaul, Corporate Knowledge Librarian, jmk@synopsys.com

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