Self-Authentication of Newspaper and Periodical Articles Published Only on the Internet

Courts recognize that newspaper or other periodical stories posted on websites are self-authenticating under Federal Rule of Evidence 902(6) (Newspapers and Periodicals). See the article Internet and Email Evidence 2011 posted here. Although the cases have not found it necessary to focus on the issue, there has always been a lingering question as to whether this analysis applies to articles that are published only on the internet and that are not separately published in hard copy — e.g., a Reuters, Bloomberg, Dow Jones or AP wire story that may never appear in print anywhere, or an article in an internet-only publication like Slate. That question arises because Rule 902(6) refers to “printed material.” Five years ago, there was an effort to get this addressed by a definitional amendment to the Federal Rules of Evidence (a Proposed Rule 107 was under consideration), but that never materialized. Professor Dan Capra, the Reporter to the Federal Rules of Evidence, advises that this issue is resolved by the 2011 restyling amendments to the Federal Rules of Evidence that will become effective December 1, 2011. New Rule 101(b)(6) contains the following definition: “a reference to any kind of written material or any other medium includes electronically stored information.” Therefore, Rule 902(6)’s reference to “printed material” extends to information that never reaches hard copy but exists only in cyber space. This is a salutary amendment.

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