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Old Dec 9, 2003, 6:55 PM   #1
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Default Can a Picture from Digicam be used as an evidence in a court

Don't laugh, I have a rather dumb question.

In courts many times a picture is produced as an evidence and it is accepted too provided that the picture is supported by a matching negetive. Here it is assumed that negetive can not be changed / altered while picture can be a trick.

Now with Digicam we don't have a -ve so will court accept picture taken using Digicam ?

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Old Dec 9, 2003, 7:04 PM   #2
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that is a dicey situation. the only digital camera that i know that has an ability to confirm the originality of a image (that is it has not in any way been alterd) is the EOS1Ds it has a verification kit that costs $1500. even then i doubt it without confirming it with each jurisdiction.
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Old Dec 9, 2003, 7:10 PM   #3
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Some Epson Models (Epson 850z, 3000z) offered a firmware upgrade/software package designed to allow photos to be used in court (confirming that not a single pixel was modified).

It was called the "Image Authentication System". Once installed in a camera (via firmware upgrade), it was not removable by the user.

You can find the manuals for it here:


Although I don't know if their use was ever successfully challenged or not.

Minolta now has a software package for one of their models designed to do the same thing (but I think it's a software only versus firmware/software solution, which may or may not make it more vulnerable to unfavorable rulings).
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Old Dec 9, 2003, 7:17 PM   #4
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I am not a lawyer, but my impression is that no photo is ever taken as evidence without someone testifying that the photo is a real representation of what occured. In otherwords, the photo is not evidence of itself, but an illustration of someone's testimony. The witness could show a drawing instead of a photo to illustrate what they saw/know.

Another impression I have is that the rules of what can be used in court is wildly different in different places. And in different kinds of cases - automatic photos of traffic violations are allowed in some places because that isn't a "crime", but a very minor violation which comes under different rules.

That is why lawyers get paid: to figure out that kind of stuff.
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Old Dec 9, 2003, 9:10 PM   #5
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Well, negatives can be tampered with, an alternate image slipped in if you use a negative duplicator, etc.
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Old Dec 10, 2003, 12:01 AM   #6
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What Billdrew said is what I have experienced (I am a Private Investigator and have often had my work product used as evidence in court).
It depends on numerous factors, but mainly on the jurisdiction of the court and on the judge. Up until a few years ago some judges did not even allow DNA evidence.

With the present technology, a digital camera image has about the same standing as a normal photo, as both can be tampered with by experts. It's possible to make a negative from almost any image (including a digital) with the right equip, so a negative is not evidence prima facia as the truth.
it all comes down to the person who is swearing/representing that the image is a true representation of what was seen.

Also, the opposit side has the opportunity to get the evidence 'dismissed' by the jury by showing, again with expert testimony, that it was altered, is a fake, etc.

Brian P.
Houston, Tx
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Old Dec 10, 2003, 3:03 AM   #7
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In UK, speed cameras are being installed everywhere, some say it's a revenue generating operation. The most up to date cameras can scan your registration plate and automatically send off the fine! Previously negative media was used in the chemical 'Gatso' type cameras. The argument always was that anything digitised or 'enhanced' was effectively tampered evidence.

I suspect the rules must be changing, now that speed cameras are shooting both the plate AND the driver at the wheel! There is no way a chemical camera can send off 30-50 fines per hour, which can apparently happen along some roads until word gets round. VOX
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Old Dec 10, 2003, 8:52 AM   #8
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I concur with Mike, negatives can be altered. I know that my insurance company uses digitals to take pictures of car accidents. I am sure that they have and will continue to use them in court.
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Old Dec 10, 2003, 10:43 AM   #9
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Mike is absolutely correct...

There are some methods of altering photographs which when done by a good technician are all but impossible to detect. One of these is the matte box method, whereby 2 people who have never met can be shown talking to each other. The same sort of thing can be done with special masking, paste ups, and rear projection. Persons can be shown in a photograph in a location where they have never been before. This is why it is so important in legal cases that negatives be preserved, although even negatives can be made just as fraudulently as prints by recopying the prints following alterations to produce a new set of negatives that can be said to be genuine.

The above is an excerpt from ASP Labs at http://www.alpslabs.com/ALPS-ARTICLE...to-forge-B.htm
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Old Dec 10, 2003, 6:07 PM   #10
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The photo is likely to serve pretty much the same function as someone saying, "I saw ...". People can lie, and they can alter photographs.

A court is will be very unhappy with either one.
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