Understanding the Legality of Scanned Documents

Many organizations who are considering a document management solution aren’t entirely sure if the documents they scan and store in their ECM are going to be legally admissible or compliant. Oftentimes, rather than seek out a more effective storage solution, they let piles of paperwork build up by holding on to documents longer than necessary.

Typically physically storing important records in filing cabinets or closets puts them more at risk for being stolen, destroyed, or lost than digital record keeping.

But before moving all your records into digital storage, it’s important to understand the legalities of the process. What are the rules of records management, and most importantly, are scanned documents legally accepted?

What are the laws?

In the United States, there are two laws that clearly establish if digitally scanned documents managed on an ECM are admissible in court:

1. The Uniform Photographic Copies of Business and Public Records as Evidence Act (UPA) (US 1128‐0020‐00) ‐ Enacted by almost all states, it specifies that reproductions of records have the same legal significance as the original and may be used in place of the original for all purposes including evidence.

What does this mean? In short, it means that copies, microfilm, and other reproductions, documents are the same as physical documents and are just as legally valid.

2. The Uniform Rules of Evidence (US 128‐0060‐00 to 0170‐00) ‐ the other major uniform law, “The Uniform Rules of Evidence“, has been adopted by the United States federal courts and 34 states. The Rules of Evidence allow a duplicate to be admissible in evidence “to the same extent as an original” and defines a duplicate as a counterpart produced by any technique “which accurately reproduces the original.”

What does this mean? It means that as long as your digital duplicates are the same as the original (which with the proper processes and procedures they would be), you can utilize them in U.S. Federal Courts and the majority of state courts.

Both laws state that duplicate records may be admitted into evidence if they accurately reproduce the original. Because document imaging technology is a duplication technology similar to physical reproduction methods such as photocopies, microfilm, and facsimile, digitally stored documents fit within these regulations.

What classifies as a reproduction?

The most widely‐used reproduction techniques, including photocopy, microfilm, facsimile, and document imaging all exhibit the same characteristics:

Image Capture

A photographic, scanning, or another process that identifies and captures the image of the original document.

Image Manipulation

A photographic, electronic, photostatic, or another process that transforms the captured image into a format for storing and reproducing the image.

Visible Reproduction

A photographic, photostatic, printing, or another process that converts the manipulated image into visible form. A document imaging system, for example, utilizes an electronic scanner for image recognition, computer software, memory and optical disk storage for image manipulation, and graphic terminals and laser printers to make the image visible.

A document imaging system is similar to other reproduction technologies, it utilizes an electronic scanner for image recognition; computer software, memory and optical disk storage for image manipulation, and graphic terminals and laser printers to make the image visible.

As long as it’s correctly done, courts have upheld that imaging and scanning are just as legally binding as paper documents.

Regardless of how you store your documents, audit trails are recommended in order to prove that a transaction was properly processed by the organization. With an audit trail, you can instantly know every time an electronic document has been viewed or manipulated. They help ensure document integrity and prove that the image is a true representation of the original ‐ reducing exposure to risk. Mosaic’s solutions allow for the easy creation of audit trails and

In Conclusion

In the United States, records made from a document imaging system will be admissible in evidence to the same extent as the original record, as long as the document imaging records accurately reproduce the original. If that standard has been met, an organization can feel secure in destroying the original records and relying on digital records as evidence.

Similarly, records required by government agencies can be maintained in document imaging systems. Whenever the government agency requests information, the organization would prepare duplicates from the document imaging system. The government agency may require that original records be kept or that your document imaging system meet certain standards.

Government agencies in the United States may also use document imaging systems to manage and retrieve information. Original short‐term paper records could be destroyed after the images have accurately been preserved in a document imaging system. Since document imaging records are not archival, long‐term (retention over 10 years) or permanent records must generally be maintained in either paper or archival microfilm form. It is not expected that state and federal archives will permit the destruction of long‐term paper records after scanning into a document imaging system, even when document imaging are certified for archival purposes.

Understanding DocStar Reportworks

Day-to-day, many of your workflows stay relatively consistent. While they may seem like they’re working “well enough,” it’s possible there are gaps you may be missing.

How does an organization identify those gaps and fix them? The first step is gaining a deeper understanding of your current workflow.

This first step is crucial in ensuring that your workflows are working for your organization. By reviewing how effective your workflow is you can quickly identify what’s working and what’s not, and then take the steps necessary to fix it.

This task may sound daunting, but if you’re already utilizing DocStar to help manage your record storage and other processes, you already have the tools required to effectively visualize your workflows.

With ReportWorks you can utilize an interactive display designed to make visualizing bottlenecks in your operations easier. It allows you to quickly analyze system-wide metrics to get an overview of how your workflows are doing as a whole.

ReportWorks empowers you to address any issues it discovers. And just like your DocStar ECM, it integrates seamlessly with other common business applications and technologies, complementing your existing approach rather than just complicating it.

Where can you use ReportWorks?

Accounts Payable:

See the approval status of any invoice, if they’re waiting on approval, and who needs to approve it. This can help speed up your current AP process and help your organization make payments more efficiently.

DOT Records:

Many organizations rely on trucks, construction equipment, or other vehicles to keep your business running daily. With ReportWorks you can quickly review what needs servicing or replacement, meaning you won’t be surprised by any repairs.

Human Resources:

Managing your employees’ certificates, licensing, medical cards, and other crucial items can be a difficult and time-consuming process. With ReportWorks you can be notified when these key documents are up for renewal. Receive automatic updates via email when employees are due for a review.

Contract Management:

Contracts are another type of document that when not managed actively can quickly become a much bigger problem. In ReportWorks you can quickly see any contracts that are about to expire so you can take action before it becomes an issue.

Audit Reports:

Compliance is important for any organization, and audit reporting is a key part of that. Audit reporting in ReportWorks allows you to see what users or groups are active and access rights to specific levels in your security classes.

Document Level Auditing:

Feel confident in your compliance by gaining an overview of what documents, content types, and workflows are assigned to specific security classes.


We know not all organizations are the same, so it’s important to allow for the ability to build custom reports from searchable parameters on any document or metadata stored within the DocStar system.

Automatic Emailing:

Another feature of ReportWorks is the ability to have your report automatically emailed to anyone on a custom schedule (ie. hourly, daily, monthly) in a custom format (ie. PDF, Excel, or Word).

Once your workflow gaps are identified, utilizing DocStar ReportWorks for the processes mentioned (and countless others) can help fill those gaps and ensure that your organization continues to succeed.

ReportWorks can help benefit your automation process, and once you become a pro you can utilize it across your organization. Need help learning ReportWorks? Call  1-800-387-7859 to schedule training.

Automating Quality Control

Compliance is important for any organization but within quality control, it’s especially crucial. Documents that need to be shared with state, federal, and third party agencies must be stored and maintained securely to ensure compliance. By heavily relying on paper-intensive processes for those documents, you put your organization at risk of non-compliance. Beyond that, paper processes are significantly more time consuming than their digital counterparts.  

Why automate?

In traditional processes, documents and paperwork get shifted around from person to person, department to department, with no real way to keep track of them. Key quality control documents including ECN (engineering change notice), SOPs and Inspection Reports can easily be misplaced or deleted, leaving your organization vulnerable.

Leveraging digital document storage and automation, companies can reduce manual routing, and take control of parts of the process such as revision control, automatic assignment of tasks to fulfill a change order process and ensure all steps for compliance were followed. Additionally, to ensure CFR Part 11 compliance documents are securely stored in a document management system to prove intent, and structure process.

Depending on your industry, you may be required to maintain records of all quality documents for years, even decades. If you are producing or distributing at a high rate, the paperwork builds up quickly. Rather than have stacks of papers within filing cabinets (that are susceptible to fire or flood), upgrading to a digital repository can help save you space as well as time spent searching for records.

By automating your process and managing your documents digitally, you’ll always know where they are and who they’re with, ensuring that you uphold company, industry, and federal standards.

What are some other benefits of Quality Control Automation?

  • Capture, store, distribute, and track production and control record, and link certifications and licenses.
  • Automate tasks for sales order processing
  • Pre-define documentation requirements, approval steps, and due dates, making each document that goes into your system easier to manage.
  • Create collaborative workflows that include alerts, approvals, reporting, and annotation, and distribute documents for approvals in just a few steps.
  • Utilize intelligent data capture and document indexing to make your records easily searchable.
  • Integrate with your existing EQMS, BOM, and ERP Systems

How does automation work?

In simple terms, it’s streamlining the process of collecting, capturing and storing engineering, production and quality control documents while maintaining regulatory compliance.

With automation, all of your files can be quickly captured, processed and securely stored in a central document repository allowing authorized employees to instantly search and retrieve them. Related documents can be linked providing instant access from other related documents. Tasks are routed through workflow according to your defined business rules, user roles, and access rights. All of the steps in your processes can be automated to reduce dependence on time-intensive manual entry and approval processes. A secure web-based interface provides access to documents from anywhere in the world, at any time.

How to get started

Automation can seem like a heavy lift, especially if you don’t know where to start.  Mosaic can help you get the tools you need and assist in building the systems and workflows required for total quality control automation.

Give us a call at 1-800-387-7859 to take the first step!