Asked in Contracts for New York

Q: I have contracts with (amateur) actors for several video shoots. All are scanned in PDF files.

In the PDF you see the signed contract and a copy of the passport of each actor. The originals are non-existing (paperless office). Would my PDF document/scan suffice in the court of law in the US should that be necessary one day?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Tim Akpinar
Tim Akpinar
Answered
  • Little Neck, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: It could depend on the court system. There is no universal standard nationwide - there are different jurisdictions and different court systems, where different courts might have their own requirements. Digital files are commonly used in discovery exchanges, but it would probably be advisable to have a paper hard copy available. There are attorneys here who practice in entertainment/sports - they would probably have better insight as to what is customary in the industry. Good luck

Tim Akpinar

V. Jonas Urba agrees with this answer

V. Jonas Urba
V. Jonas Urba
PREMIUM
Answered
  • New York, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: Mr. Akpinar is correct. Each court is different.

1) You say that originals are non-existent but in today's digital world even if an original passport is destroyed, there will be a higher likelihood that individuals, governments or some entity of the hospitality industry may have stored a passport image somewhere in the cloud.

2) The same applies to the image of an electronically signed contract. If you have stored it then it may also have been stored by the actor or her/his agents who may have printed their signed contracts, storing both paper and digital originals.

3) Depending on the nature of the court proceeding, a court may require affidavits from all parties to agreements that each has conducted a search and that no documents except digitally stored ones exist with each affiant's submission of her/his original digital copy for comparison with each other affiant's copy. The authenticity of electronically stored documents can be challenged as can the authenticity of paper originals, absent stipulation.

Tim Akpinar agrees with this answer

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