What is Metadata

The literal definition of metadata is 'data about (meta) data' - the data being documents.  (see Wikipedia).  Metadata is nefarious because much of it is created automatically by computer software, or is at least created without being visible as part of a user-instigated action.   A few examples: 

When you create a document in MS-Word, information is automatically inserted into the document-information-page (MS-Word / File / Info / ) including your name and the date the document was created.  If you open the file and make ANY change (spacebar / then backspace /  for example) and save the file, the date the document was modified last - is updated.  PS: if you open and print (to avoid saving) then the Last-Print date is updated.

If you use the track-changes tool in MS-Word, you may be embedding your track-changes in the document (even though they're not visible after an "accept all").

In the context of legal practice, metadata tends to fall into two contexts.

Work-product: The examples I've just provided would tend to fall into the "work-product" category - metadata is added to documents created in the usual course of business, and is attached to correspondence, pleadings, or memorandum.

Litigation:  In the example of Date-Modified, I mentioned that ANY change to the file will cause an update to Date-Modified IF the file is saved.  In the context of litigation, this might result in spoliation if date-modified is relevant metadata.

Also see this LawyerPDF post on the topic for more details.

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