[rfc-i] issue: legal status of canonical formats

John Levine johnl at taugh.com
Sat Jun 2 11:43:31 PDT 2012

>The contract needs to specify what it is referring to, e.g.
>"RFC1305 refers to the graphical version to be found at the web link
>http://www.rfc-editor.org/rfc/rfc1305.pdf (last accessed 2012-06-02)."
>If it doesn't, the witness would have to say "I don't know which document
>this contract refers to."

I'm sorry, but that's just silly.  Assuming that the PDF, epub,
and legacy printer format contain the same text, which they will
unless the conversion tools are broken (in which case we can fix
them), what difference does it make?  It's the contents that matter.

I have testified in court multiple times, and lawyers routinely hand
me copies of documents and ask me if I recognize them.  The answer is
invariably, yes, this is such and such a document.  Sometimes it's an
original, sometimes it's an umpteenth generation photocopy.  When it's
something like an old usenet posting, sometimes it's a printout of a
Google groups page, sometimes it's the source of the article from a
web server.  In my experience, a court would be pretty annoyed at a
witness playing games like well, yes, this appears to have exactly the
same text as RFC 1035, but it's not the same document because the
fonts and line breaks are different.

Is anyone else here speaking from actual experience verifying
documents in court, or are we blowing various gaseous mixes?


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