Group creates standard to ease e-discovery data transfer

Hopes that 20 vendors unveil products based on XML-based specs by Feb. '08

The Electronic Discovery Reference Model standards group Tuesday unveiled an XML-based standard that it says will allow documents transfer through the systems of multiple vendors during the various stages of e-discovery.

The new standard defines metadata of e-mail and files for simplified transfer to and from applications that are used as part of an e-discovery process by businesses, service providers and outside legal firms, said Kurt Leafstrand, a spokesman for the two-year-old standards group.

Leafstrand said the new standard supports the use of Optical Character Recognition files created from scanned images and TIFF documents featuring stored images, as well as instant messaging, attachments and video metadata.

The XML standard schema was ratified by the 41 members of the standards group last week at the biannual meeting of the St. Paul, Minn.-based organization, he said.

Leafstrand said the XML schema standard will be launched next February in New York at the LegalTech conference. By then, the standards group hopes that at least 20 vendors will have successfully passed its newly created compliance test, enabling their products to natively support the electronic transfer information code.

For example, Clearwell Systems plans to begin shipping Version 3.0 of its Clearwell Intelligent Platform, which will support the new standard, noted Leafstrand, also director of product management at California-based Clearwell. He said his company's software will export data to service providers via the standard format early on in the e-discovery process.

"In the past, there hasn't been a standard way to hand off [information] from one step of e-discovery to the other," said Leafstrand. "With no validation tools to make sure you have done it right, it's been a very hit-and-miss, labor-intensive operation."

Regarding future development, he said businesses can expect the EDRM standards group to begin to tackle the topic of redaction, or document editing, as early as May 2008.

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