Authentication in the United States

The primary legal materials, and the methods used to access them, should be authenticated so people can trust in the integrity of these materials.

Authentication Definition

In practice. A proper or legal attestation. Acts done with a view of causing an instrument to be known and identified. Under the constitution of the United States, Congress has power (according to the definition of Authentication based on the Cyclopedic Law Dictionary ) to provide a method of authenticating copies of the records of a state with a view to their production as evidence in other states. For the various statutes on the subject, see this Legal Encyclopedia. There is also more definitions of Authentication in the legal Dictionaries.

Authentication in the State Archives

The Minnesota State Archives offers information on the methods and associated costs of authentication. Background information on the legal concerns and development of a model law for authentication (as well as a list of additional resources and links to evaluations of fixity (checksum) tools) in this online

See more about long-term Preservation Strategies in this reference.

Authority and Accuracy

The reliability of free or low-cost internet resources will increase even more when we evaluate internet resources by authority and accuracy, and weed out inauthentic websites. The Bluebook also provides that we can cite to a digital copy of a source if the copy is “authenticated, official, or an exact copy of the printed source.” (…)

In Getty Petroleum, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit distinguishes accuracy from authenticity, discussing judicial notice of law retrieved from a web page. (Getty Petroleum Mktg., Inc. v. Capital Terminal Co., 391 F.3d 312, 324 n.17 (Ist Cir. 2004)). The court, indicating a hearsay problem of the legal information from a website, emphasizes the importance of accuracy of law as set forth by the enacting authority. (Getty Petroleum Mktg., Inc. v. Capital Terminal Co., 391 F.3d 312, 324 n.17 (Ist Cir. 2004))

However, the authentic website is rebuttably presumed to contain accurate legal information. The burden of disproving authenticity of the information contained shifts from publishers and vendors to the domain owner of the website. The Getty Petroleum court also admits that in reality “authenticity and accuracy are never doubted when …widely-available, wellrespected services are cited” (Getty Petroleum Mktg., Inc. v. Capital Terminal Co., 391 F.3d 325 (Ist Cir. 2004)) 44 This must be commensurate with the intimation provided in an illustration for the authentication of public records or reports in the Federal Rules of Evidence. The illustration in Rule 901(b)(7) intimates that a purported public record and report is authentic if the document comes from the public office keeping it (FED. R. EVID. 901(b)(7)). This must reflect the reality that we cannot check the validity of every single online document, comparing it with an original source. In other words, an individual researcher does not have enough resources to check the accuracy of all the legal information contained in a website. (1)

Authentication in Foreign Legal Encyclopedias

For starting research in the law of a foreign country:

Link Description
Authentication Authentication in the World Legal Encyclopedia.
Authentication Authentication in the European Legal Encyclopedia.
Authentication Authentication in the Asian Legal Encyclopedia.
Authentication Authentication in the UK Legal Encyclopedia.
Authentication Authentication in the Australian Legal Encyclopedia.

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Authentication (Investment Securities)

This section introduces, discusses and describes the basics of authentication. Then, cross references and a brief overview about Investment Securities is provided. Finally, the subject of Commercial Law in relation with authentication is examined. Note that a list of cross references, bibliography and other resources appears at the end of this entry.



  1. Jootaek Lee (2012) “Gatekeepers of Legal Information: Evaluating and Integrating Free Internet Legal Resources into the Classroom,” Barry Law Review: Vol. 17: Iss. 2, Article 3

See Also

  • Authentication Of Instruments
  • Employment Records
  • Death Records
  • National Archives and Records
  • Expungement Of Criminal Records
  • Archives
  • Prison Records
  • National Archives And Records Administration
  • Office of Records Services
  • Personnel Records

Further Reading

Authentication: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Authentication. This part provides references, in relation to Authentication, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Authentication by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Authentication and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Authentication or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Authentication and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Authentication. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Authentication should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Authentication when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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