What you don’t know about your photocopier…

…that can seriously hurt you!


This is a guest post from one of my smARTist Telesummit presenters, Attorney Leonard, DuBoff.

Mr. DuBoff, a pioneer in the field of art law and practicing attorney, represents museums, galleries, dealers, photographers, artists and craftspeople. He has taught at the Stanford Law School and written 9 books on Art Law in plain English.

Given how fast we upgrade our vast array of computerized objects, with a good number of these not even looking like computers… and given how much of our privacy has already… been invaded, if not completely destroyed, I found this concern of  Attorney DuBoff’s more than relevant to artists embracing the technology of our 21st Century world.


Remember: Your Photocopier, Printer, and Scanners Are Computers

by Leonard D. DuBoff

These days, photocopiers, printers, and scanners do a lot more than just make copies, print, and scan. They scan, fax, print, email and, most importantly for purposes of this Alert, save data.

This means when you dispose of an old device, whether by recycling or returning it to the leasing company, you must make sure that all confidential data has been removed.

All hard drives should be scrubbed, just as you would do for any other type of computer. Alternatively, you may have a technician remove the hard drive from the device and return it to you for destruction.

If you fail to remove all confidential data, you risk not only the loss of your valuable trade secrets, but possible legal and ethical ramifications as well.

For instance, HIPAA protects the confidentiality of medical information, and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Safeguards Rule protects the confidentiality of personal consumer information.

Both of these laws, as well as many other laws and ethical rules protecting confidential information of third parties, provide for serious consequences when such information isn’t properly protected.

In fact, a managed care company, Affinity Health Plan, learned this the hard way when it was fined more than $1.2 million for HIPAA violations arising from a copier it returned to the leasing company without first removing the data.

Before you buy or lease your next copier, printer, or scanner check into the security options. Many devices now offer such features as encryption and overwriting.

The FTC provides some information about copier security on its website.

Note that generally only large photocopiers store data. If you have a table-top copier, it may not have that ability. To be on the safe side, however, you should research whether that’s true for your particular model of any device before disposing of it.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about laws relating to this or security and privacy in general.


Ariane’s Note: Seems as if, given what Attorney DuBoff has laid out here, we should be researching all of our device’s capability to store data that might land in the wrong lap!

If you want more of  Attorney DuBoff’s advice on What Every Artist Needs to Know About the Law,” we have his individual presentations available for you in our smARTist Store.

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