How can cataloging document properties assist with your investigations?
A 2013 case in the District Court of Idaho highlights several aspects of how important document properties can be when trying to consider files received from a second or third party.
The Plaintiff, AtHome requested from the Defendant, Good Samaritan, certain documents, which it provided. Unfortunately, according to the court, there was “an inadvertent change to the creation date on certain documents”. It’s easily done. The court does not go into details as to how the creation date was changed, but it could have been as simple as:
• accidentally re-saving a document,
• copying it onto another drive and that drive or server modifying the creation date (for example, if the server is in a different time zone), or
• as will be seen in an upcoming article, even the process of copying an email from Microsoft Outlook to Windows Explorer can change the creation date.
As can be seen in the article “Windows versus Metadata dates”, the standard date information is not necessarily accurate (and sometimes, completely misleading). As shown in that article, it is much better to use on the properties inherent in the native file rather than relying on data which is possibly not accurate.
Another reason for needing the metadata is because, in its Complaint, AtHome alleged that Good Samaritan may have used its information to create their “materials and model”, and that the metadata would help with establishing that. This may be possible. As noted in the article “Metadata used in Word files”, several of the documents have clear evidence in the metadata that they have been created using a conversion tool – and some of the properties are clearly wrong as a result.
The Court used its authority to grant the Plantiff’s request in respect of certain important documents. It is not clear on the face of it how that information was to be provided, or what happened next, but this article on British ediscovery requirements shows that a common requirement is for it to be produced in spreadsheet or similar format, with the columns clearly divided.
This is the format that Filecats Professional uses. It exports up to several hundred fields of metadata into Microsoft Excel from Windows Explorer, and it does so quickly and with only a few clicks. Try a free 7-day trial today, and see what is available in your (or in a third party’s) data.
This article does not represent to make legal advice. You should always consult a suitably qualified attorney regarding any specific legal problem or matter.