Thursday, March 12, 2009

Watermarks on documents

An early draft of the Formatting Standards contained a prohibition on recording documents that contained a “watermark” but the final version that is contained in the current Deed Indexing Standards is silent on the watermark issue. That is unfortunate, because we have started to receive death certificates that have the word “copy” embedded throughout as a watermark. Presumably this is someone in government’s effort to prevent the copying of these documents so that people will be forced to purchase multiple copies of the document rather than relying on photocopies. It couldn’t be to prevent attempts to pass off photocopies as originals since all original death certificates always bear the raised seal of the issuing office, a physical change to the document that certainly can’t be reproduced by a copying machine. While I don’t want to question the motives of whomever designed this anti-copying system, I wll say that they have really messed up the ability of the registry of deeds to include such documents in our records. As you can see from this document, the watermark that was nearly invisible on the original has completely obscurred all meaningful information on the scanned copy in the official records of the registry of deeds - all but the social security number of the deceased which I have manually redacted with the blue box. I expect to raise this issue of unreproduceable death certificates at future meetings of the registers of deeds association so that we can take collective action to preserve the integrity of our land records.

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