When the court requests photocopies of a document, can I just re-run the document off my printer?

Must I go to a photocopy store?


There are instances where photocopies of documents will not be accepted. Some village traffic courts may require an original signed letter on company letterhead from an insurance company for proof of insurance coverage. Some local court rules state that illegible photocopies will not be accepted. In litigation, CPLR 4539 Reproductions of original permits copies of business documents (not originally produced electronically) to be submitted as evidence.

Before home computers and printers, copies of typed and printed documents were made on photocopy machines and before photocopy machines, on photostat machines. The word photostat still appears in NYS Laws even though the technology was replaced in the 1960s by photocopiers. The word photocopy is frequently used in New York State Laws and Court Rules but there is no definition of a photocopy in the New York State Laws and Court Rules.

Recently revised and amended laws are beginning to include phrasing more appropriate to current technology such as: digital copy, electronically produced print, or computer-generated duplicate, but for the legislature to amend laws only because of a change in technology is unrealistic.

The Courts have addressed the issue of terms changing due to technology:

...  where the *797 Fourth Department upheld a jury instruction that a “photograph” could include a computer graphic image and noted that “it is impossible for the Legislature to consider every societal and technological change that may occur and the effect those changes may have upon the particular conduct it is seeking to regulate,” 264 A.D.2. at 109, 704 N.Y.S.2d 426 and that the Legislature did not have to amend the law to accommodate every advancement in technology. Id. At 110, 704 N.Y.S.2d 426. See also, See also, People v. Santiago, 1999 N.Y. Slip Op. 40004(U), 1999 N.Y. Misc. 671, 1999 WL 33313138 (Co. Ct. Monroe Cty 1999) (“this court must try to harmonize technology with statutory construction in accordance with the plain purpose, viz, the underlying policy, of the legislative enactment”).

36170 Realty Ltd. v Boyd, 143 NYS3d 773, 796-97 [Civ Ct 2021]

The appropriate course, however, is to employ the theory of statutory construction that general terms encompass future developments and technological advancements. In the context of statutory construction, this Court has observed that “general legislative enactments are mindful of the growth and increasing needs of society, and they should be construed to encourage, rather than to embarrass[,] the inventive and progressive tendency of the people” (Hudson Riv. Tel. Co. v Watervliet Turnpike & Ry. Co., 135 NY 393, 403-404 [1892]; see McKinney's Cons Laws of NY, Book 1, Statutes § 93 [“statutes framed in general terms ordinarily apply to cases and subjects within their terms subsequently arising”]).

Lohan v Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc., 31 NY3d 111, 121 [2018]

  • Last Updated Oct 19, 2021
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