Why States Should Adopt UELMA

Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA)

Why States Should Adopt the Act

  • The availability of government information online facilitates transparency and accountability, provides widespread access to essential information, and encourages citizen participation.  The Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) addresses the critical need to effectively provide and manage electronic government information in a manner that guarantees trustworthiness and continued access.
  • The UELMA provides for authentication, preservation, and accessibility of official electronic state legal material. The act sets forth provisions that can be efficiently followed and that will achieve the stated purposes of the act.  Adoption of the UELMA will assist state governments in guaranteeing the free flow of trustworthy legal information.
  • States are given discretion in deciding which categories of “legal material” will be covered by the act.  Flexible language and alternative provisions allow each state to tailor the act to best meet its needs.
  • The UELMA requires official publishers to consider the most recent standards for the preservation, authentication, and access to electronic legal material.  The UELMA recognizes that technology will continue to change and improve, and supports collaboration among jurisdictions in choosing and implementing new technologies.
  • The UELMA does not affect any relationships between an official state publisher and a commercial publisher, leaving those relationships to contract law.  Copyright laws are unaffected by the act.  The act does not affect the rules of evidence; judges will continue to be able to make decisions about the admissibility of electronic evidence in their courtrooms.
  • The UELMA does not require specific technologies, leaving the choice of technology for authentication and preservation up to the states.  Giving states the flexibility to choose any technology that meets the required outcomes allows each state to choose the best and most cost-effective method for that state.
  • Adoption of the UELMA will harmonize standards for acceptance of electronic legal material across jurisdictional boundaries. If your state enacts the UELMA, the presumption that your authenticated electronic legal material is accurate applies in every other state that has enacted the UELMA.  If another state enacts the UELMA, and authenticates its electronic legal material, that state’s authenticated legal material is presumed to be an accurate copy for use in your state. 
  • Under the UELMA, each state or territory has the flexibility to choose an effective date for implementation that works best for its jurisdiction.
  • The UELMA is intended to be complementary to the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC, which covers sales and many commercial transactions), the Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act (URPERA, which provides for electronic recording of real property instruments), and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA, which deals with electronic commerce).