Website Backups: An Ethical Necessity?
Our website has been up for some time, but I haven’t made many changes to it. Adding videos and a few other things are on my to-do list, but I’m glad I haven’t done it yet. This past weekend my partner and I attended a PA Bar Association Young Lawyer’s retreat. During one of the CLEs, a panelist pointed out that the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct require attorneys to keep a record of every advertisement. No news there, we keep copies of anything we send out. But she presented an interesting question: what about websites?
Pennsylvania Rule of Professional Conduct 7.2(b) states:
A copy or recording of an advertisement or written communication shall be kept for two
years after its last dissemination along with a record of when and where it was used. This record shall
include the name of at least one lawyer responsible for its content.
My reading of this rule is that websites, which are advertisements, have to copied and retained for two years after the last dissemination. As for “when and where it was used,” I think a record of the URL should be sufficient
I don’t believe page version history is sufficient for keeping a “copy or recording” of the website. In WordPress, you can see the various revisions each page has gone through. But if you take the site down completely and no longer own the URL, you won’t have access to this information. The only thing I could think of was saving each page as a .PDF. No small task I can assure you. And that’s for a relatively small website. We only have about twenty pages on the whole site, so I spent my morning opening each page, printing it to a .PDF, saving it, titling it, and moving on to the next page.
By the end I had no motivation to create more content, since that would lead to more backups in the future. Luckily, I stumbled on a significantly easier solution. Assuming you have Acrobat Pro, all you have to do is go to File–>Create PDF–>From Webpage and you will get a dialog box. Put in your URL and make sure to click “Capture Multiple Levels.” Check the box that says capture entire site, and you’re good to go.
Adobe warned me that it would take up a good chunk of time and hard drive space. But by the time I made some coffee and came back, the whole operation was done. For our twenty page site the whole file was 210kb. Not too bad.
Does your jurisdiction require a copy of advertising? If so, do you keep a copy of your website?