Can screenshots be used as evidence?

3 min read
Can screenshots be used as evidence?

In a litigation process, screenshots can be used as decisive evidence. Learn why they are so important and how to work with them.

A screenshot is visual proof of something that occurred on a computer. In litigation, these images are now an essential form of evidence. With the increasing number of cases that are being filed, it is understood that there is a steady growth of evidence based on screenshots. It is a much more effective way to present what happened in the past when compared to the traditional paper documentation.

What is a screenshot?
A screenshot is a picture of what you see on your computer screen. It can be saved as PNG, JPEG images or other formats. They are often used to show what a website or computer screen looked like at a particular time when you were working with a piece of software, or to show people what something looked like online. Since they keep track of a past event, they can be used as evidence in a litigation process as well.

Problems that might require screenshots

There are numerous instances when screenshots could be used during a litigation process:

  1. They can be used in cases of copyright infringement or software piracy, disputes regarding the illegal use of a trademark or logo, and when a website is being used for phishing or fraud schemes.
  2. Some services offer running round the clock but sometimes fail to fulfill that promise. For example, if such a website is down and you grab the error message displayed on the page, it could be used as evidence that your own website was down at that point in time.
  3. Another problem that might require these images is false claims. Screenshots can also be used as proof that a customer has used a certain software as advertised by the manufacturer. If any of the parties is making a false claim, it can be verified easily.
  4. In the past, screenshots weren’t used in legal cases, but today everything is different. The need for screenshots has increased because of the number of cases that have been brought to court, especially in the e-commerce industry and many others.

For example, some manufacturers would not want e-commerce stores to sell their products below or above a certain price. To ensure total adherence, the manufacturers can monitor the prices displayed on the products’ listing pages via screenshots. This is very handy because, if they can file a lawsuit against the defiant of a bridge of contract, they can easily present visual evidence to a court during a litigation process.

Legal requirements to take screenshots for litigation

Even though it might seem unusual, screenshots are admissible evidence. Yes, you can use them as legal proof, but you can't just present them and expect everything to be okay. Time and date matter a lot in a litigation process. 

Also, an attorney may request to see the source code used to capture the images, and will probably want to see the original code from the server—not just the results. It's also critical that the images you provide are the originals.

How to capture a screenshot?

Manual approach

  1. Keyboard shortcut - Capturing manual screenshots is very simple. On a Windows PC, you can press the Print Screen (or PrtScn) key located in the upper right corner of your keyboard. On Mac, combining the keys Shift + ⌘ + 3 will generate the image of the current window. This is especially handy when you need just a few pictures and the capturing has to be done in a less frequent interval.
  2. GoFullPage  - With 4M+ users and 55k+ reviews on the Google Chrome Webstore, it only echoes why capturing the images of some web pages is extremely important, especially when it comes to litigation purposes. This browser extension gets the job done in the blink of an eye and you end up with a nice-looking image sitting on your device. The good thing about this software is that it captures the entire browser window—you can crop the image afterward to show only the desired sections if you want to. There are many other similar tools such as Scrnli, Screen Capture, etc. but for the most part, they all share the same glory and shame 😁.

Limitations of manual captures

Repetitive - Generally speaking, when taking the manual route, the process quickly becomes infeasible and tedious when many pages need to be captured. This method also denies one the benefits of automatic, flexible captures and scheduling.

Data loss - As easy as it is to capture screenshots manually, it’s just as easy for them to vanish into thin air due to PC failure such as crashed disks, malware, system hijacking, etc. The occurrence is grossly unfathomable and poses a serious risk to the files being stored on the local machine. One way to mitigate this would be to upload the files to cloud storage services, but once again, you are running in circles within the boundaries of ‘repetitive’ tasks.

Cluttered files - If you manage to get the screenshot files to stay on your computer for a longer period of time, that in itself poses another challenge that might end up rendering the screenshots hard to manage. Because the process is manual, you won’t always have the time to name the files intuitively and it becomes hard to tell what file belongs to what category. Not to mention the fact that the files can sometimes be stored in locations that might be hard to recall.

Automated (and keep track over time)

Using an automated web capturing and archiving tool like Stillio will save you from stress, wasted time, and cluttered image files on your device. Stillio ensures and guarantees screenshots’ accessibility in a matter of a split second. 

In a few clicks, all the grunt work will be taken care of for you, so you can focus on doing other productive tasks. What does auto-pilot mean to you? 🚀

When using a service that automates this process, like Stillio, the files are hosted on cloud platforms without having to worry about crashed disks or any form of attack on your local device. 

You also have the option of storing the files on other cloud storage platforms such as Google Drive, Dropbox, etc. just to be sure that your screenshots are always safe. Syncing the files to a cloud platform is an enormous advantage, because you always have your evidence intact—no matter how long it takes before they are being demanded by a court.

The best time to plant a tree was yesterday, so don’t be caught unaware and end up shivering before an attorney while watching your fortune get swept away.

Conclusion

Screenshots are necessary for businesses in the litigation process. They can help a company prove their case with evidence that can save a lot of money and reputation. In our highly competitive business ecosystem today, one can never tell when a lawsuit will be filed against them, so starting to keep a record of these screenshots is the best thing to do (even though it may seem unimportant at the time!) 


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