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## Is a printed signature legally binding?

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19 replies to this topic

### #1hello2k1  Members

Posted 28 January 2003 - 01:07 PM

Here''s the thing, the contractee and I are a fairly large distance apart, and are unable to be physiaclly present to sign the contract. So instead we''re scanning our signatures, pasting them onto the contract, and printing them out. Would this contract hold up in courts?

### #2Palidine  Members

Posted 28 January 2003 - 01:10 PM

i think you normally would either fedex -> sign -> fedex back or fax -> sign -> fax back

-me

### #3hello2k1  Members

Posted 28 January 2003 - 01:50 PM

I know I could do that... but is scanning the signatures also viable?

### #4owl  Banned

Posted 28 January 2003 - 01:52 PM

I guess it is not.

EDIT: Not in my country.

[edited by - xaxa on January 28, 2003 8:52:51 PM]

### #5CWizard  Members

Posted 28 January 2003 - 01:58 PM

Many contracts are signed and then faxed. And as a fax is in fact a scanner->modem->printer, I think it should be just fine to use a dedicated scanner as you do. I often send faxes (including contracts) through my office computer by scanning them and sending them to the receiving fax.

### #6hello2k1  Members

Posted 28 January 2003 - 02:06 PM

quote:
Original post by CWizard
Many contracts are signed and then faxed. And as a fax is in fact a scanner->modem->printer, I think it should be just fine to use a dedicated scanner as you do. I often send faxes (including contracts) through my office computer by scanning them and sending them to the receiving fax.

What about if only the signatures are scanned, and then pasted into a word perfect document?

### #7CWizard  Members

Posted 28 January 2003 - 02:24 PM

quote:
Original post by hello2k1
What about if only the signatures are scanned, and then pasted into a word perfect document?
That I don''t think is a good way of doing it. The problem is (probably) that what you send must also exist in physical form which you need to save. It''s better to print out the document, sign it, scan and send as a complete image or fax it. That is, I think, often done in businesses, and should be OK, assuming that US/Canadian/Swedish laws are similar in that ragard.

[As disclaimer, I''m not really qualified to answer this, so don''t quote me on it]

### #8Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*  Guests

Posted 28 January 2003 - 02:34 PM

Be careful what you sign and send also, if it is legally binding.. what''s to stop him from cutting/pasting your signature on anything else?

### #9Taylor  Members

Posted 28 January 2003 - 04:52 PM

Like the one post says, "Mail it to yourself." It works for my music copyrights and such. HOWEVER, you can only copyright the style of your signature, just not your name. Simply because their maybe 50 billion others with your same name in the world. So go that direction. The mailing thing holds up in court. Lata.

-TAylor

Posted 29 January 2003 - 06:01 AM

In the United States The Federal Electronic Signatures Act makes documents signed by facsimile valid evidence of a binding obligation. Other laws make them valid as well. It is a common practice to fax back and forth. As a general practice, however, it is good to fed-ex hard copies to each party. Further, what is to keep them from cutting and pasting new terms as one party suggested is each party will have a copy of the agreement, if the terms do not match, somebody could be in BIG trouble for attempting perjury or attempting to defraud the court.

I''m not so sure about the "mail to yourself" thing, as its easy to replace the contents of a mailed package. My impression was that was a practice under the old copyright law to prove date of creation.

### #11hello2k1  Members

Posted 29 January 2003 - 06:46 AM

quote:
In the United States The Federal Electronic Signatures Act makes documents signed by facsimile valid evidence of a binding obligation. Other laws make them valid as well. It is a common practice to fax back and forth. As a general practice, however, it is good to fed-ex hard copies to each party. Further, what is to keep them from cutting and pasting new terms as one party suggested is each party will have a copy of the agreement, if the terms do not match, somebody could be in BIG trouble for attempting perjury or attempting to defraud the court.

I''m not so sure about the "mail to yourself" thing, as its easy to replace the contents of a mailed package. My impression was that was a practice under the old copyright law to prove date of creation.

So would copying just the signature be considered a facsimile? (I wouldn''t think so, but just double checking)
Also, how would faxing it work if it''s longer than a page?

### #12Palidine  Members

Posted 29 January 2003 - 07:41 AM

no. i can almost guarantee that scanning the signature and pasting it to a document is absolutely NOT legally binding. once i get a scan of your signature what would prevent me from copy/pasting it into a new document that says you owe me a bijillion dollars. you need a hard copy of the paper on which you physically wrote your signature.

just fax the thing. it''s really easy

-me

### #13Taylor  Members

Posted 31 January 2003 - 06:17 AM

The "Mail to yourself" deal, I forgot to add a small, tiny important detail...DO NOT OPEN THE PACKAGE! If someone was to take you to court or vise-versa then the Judge can open the package with the date of postage from the post office that was imprinted on the envelope or package. You do this with your ideas or copyrights before shelling them out to everyone. Try it.By the United States Constitution and Law I was told it was legal and will hold up rightfully in court.

-Taylor

p.s. I hope that is clearer.

### #14krez  Members

Posted 31 January 2003 - 06:39 AM

quote:
Original post by Taylor
The "Mail to yourself" deal, I forgot to add a small, tiny important detail...DO NOT OPEN THE PACKAGE! If someone was to take you to court or vise-versa then the Judge can open the package with the date of postage from the post office that was imprinted on the envelope or package. You do this with your ideas or copyrights before shelling them out to everyone. Try it.By the United States Constitution and Law I was told it was legal and will hold up rightfully in court.

you might get lucky with your "poor man''s copyright", but it is not legally binding. this is urban legend that you can do this. if you could possibly afford the great lawyers that could make this work, you might as well shell out the money to get a real, valid copyright in the first place.

as for the signatures: i used to work at a payroll service provider, and we had scans of thousands of business owners'' signatures (we''d print them right on the pay checks); however, you can use a stamp to sign a check also. i think there would be stricter rules about contracts, i mean what is to keep someone from pasting the signature on anything they like?

you can fax multiple pages, you are really in a business and don''t know how a fax machine works?

fed-ex it and sign it on both ends. spend about $20 total (for both ways), and nobody can back out or fake the contract. if$20 and 2 days is too much to handle for you, you shouldn''t be signing contracts anyway.

Posted 31 January 2003 - 07:44 AM

Krez has a good point, its worth it to pay for a lawyer to file a copyright or do it yourself. My law firm only charges $30 to file them, for a total of about$70 (roughly \$40 in filing fees and mailing).

### #16GBGames  Members

Posted 02 February 2003 - 10:55 AM

krez, why wouldn''t it hold up in court? The post office dates the document, and if you don''t open it, the judge will see that you did indeed have something at a certain date.
What isn''t legally binding about something that you can prove the US government itself has given a date to?

### #17Extrarius  Members

Posted 02 February 2003 - 12:34 PM

What would prevent you from mailing an unsealed envelope to yourself and then later filling it with something that somebody else created and sealing it? Do they check if an envelope is sealed before they date it? If not you could send yourself an unsealed envelope and 50 years from now put something in it and claim you invented it a long time ago.
If it takes good lawyers to 'make' it legally binding, then you cold always do that and when/if you come into some money say you invented some item that is really popular and possibly come into even more money, and then repeat it over and over to say you invented everything...

[edited by - Extrarius on February 2, 2003 7:37:37 PM]

### #18Akura  Members

Posted 03 February 2003 - 12:06 AM

About the mail to yourself, if you look hard, you will find a thread here where that was discussed. There were very valid posts, and some with links to relevant cases. The bottom line if I remember correctly, is that it doesn''t hold in court anymore. As Extrarius said, what prevents you from mailing you and unsealed, or better yet, a partly sealed (just the tips glued for example) and then modifying it?

In any case, search posts that are around a year old and you will find it.

About scanned signatures, IF facsmile are accepted, this should be accepted also, (I advise you to print the document, sign it and scan it tho) as most facsmilies now are days are sent via a computer scanner/printer.

### #19Obscure  Moderators

Posted 04 February 2003 - 06:21 PM

No the point about faxed contracts being binding is that you *signed* the contract and the document as a whole was then faxed. It is a facsimile of an existing contract.

That isn't the same as having a facsimile of a signature and attaching it to a document. The signature is proof that you have read and agree to the terms of the contract. As previous posters mentioned it would be too easy for someone to attach the scanned signature to any document. This happened to me (as a joke) a few years back. I went off on holiday and my assistant took my scanned signature and attached it to a resignation letter, which naturally nominated him as my successor and suggested a heafty pay rise.

One last point. You should actually initial each page of the contract as well to ensure/prove that those are the actual pages of the contract you agreed to.

Dan Marchant
Obscure Productions

[edited by - obscure on February 5, 2003 9:54:22 AM]

### #20Sneftel  Senior Moderators

Posted 04 February 2003 - 06:24 PM

quote:
Original post by GBGames
What isn''t legally binding about something that you can prove the US government itself has given a date to?

It''s trivial to steam open envelopes. And the Postal Service will gladly deliver empty, open envelopes.

Don''t listen to me. I''ve had too much coffee.

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