Digital Signatures |How to set up a binding contract electronically | By Tn Odu, Literary Agent, Phantom House Books, Nigeria, LLC

Puzzled on how you can get that contract signed, though you’re miles away in Malawi on vacation, while your office work is taking a breather in Cape Town? Or if you’re more into my profession, expatriated to go work that rig in Nigeria while you string up some book cords in China? Or hoping to catch that agency in some nifty legal work?
Welcome to the world of digital signing and signatures! I assume you’ve heard of tycoon digital companies like Adobe and Microsoft who offer to secure your document to millions all across the world, which they do extraordinarily well if I may add. Not ignoring the ‘ka-chingin’ purses on their way home too. I think they’ve made a whopping business out of this security thing and all. Little said about Bill Gate’s Millennium Bug rightly giving everyone on Planet Mars a nasty stinger…
Yet, Digital security is the ‘in’-thing, and not bracing up to it could cost you. Mega Multinational Companies like Google, YaHoo, Facebook and more of those companies that sound like something most likely to be pulled from a handbag, or even those fruity companies like Blackberry and Apple spend fortunes on their servers even though they crash, spend fortunes archiving and updating files even though you delete them, and taking server snapshots from time to time because they like to burn a fortune since you can’t afford to or just for the simple fun of reminding themselves that they can. Fortunately for us, poorer folks, it opens a brand new closet  of legal works and copyright protection laws. Whoosh! Well done megabytes and welcome microcontracts!

How It Works
Have you ever heard of the myth of primary copyright? That myth that goes by mail from the doorway to the mailbox, but travels more distance you can cover cruising the interstate. Posted by you to busy those fat and out-of-shape postal workers for weeks, only to circle the city and return to the very friendly you a couple of feet away at your mailbox? Yes, Digital contracts are more like that. Email companies keep gizillion records on their servers; documents, mp3 files, pictures, date, time, source codes, and so on. These files are backed up regularly and can always be found in a dusty archive somewhere or a hacker’s desktop computer, if you get my drift? Nonetheless, they are always present in cyberspace and anyone with the “right” access can always get a copy. Much of what you see on TV. Only this is a non-fiction piece. the sweetest part of it all is that they are all neatly archived and dated and timed! Wow! Would you look at that.
Computers really do, do all the work, and are better organized at it!
As much as robbers/killers do a fine job of leaving a paper trail or the more sinister body trail, online servers keep a document or file trail. A very well documented one at that; Date Sent. Time Sent. File Size. Network Speed. You name it. Down to the last byte and nanosecond. There are records. And not by one server alone, since we all know servers are like bridges. If you don’t know, don’t expect to be taught you the 101’s of early 19th century computer tech in a flimsy blog post. Go get Networking for Dummies 101 or something. On the contrary, much to my pleasure and in simpler words, it’d be dumb for anyone to think only one server made the internet! So when one file (if you’re expecting me to use the word ‘document’ or ‘mp3’ anymore, you’d be crazy slowpoke) jumps from your computer to another via the World Wide Server Bridge, it be more like leaving a shit-trail from one end of the aisle to your bride at the other end of the aisle. And everyone dressed for the occasion and present at the  WWW address ( World Wide Wedding ) can smell and see clearly whodunnit! Yes? No. Yikes!
You’re logged in to your email account and there’s no where else to go. The other party is in the same predicament. So, we can just skip the small talk and go ahead and sign out agreement. Remember, you’re probably 550 miles apart. Probably never even smelt your breaths. So, you create/append a file and send it from you to a god-knows-who. The other party appends the file and send it back to god-knows-you. And like pee from a bitch, you’ve both been marked by severes (oops! Forgive me. Servers). And that’s all it takes to lock you both in a gut-wrenching, law-binding contract! The crap is that simple.

Why It Works
The key factors to copyrights and contracts is who agreed to what and when. Once you can validate those key factors, you have just simplified the workings of every grandiose fine-print legally binding agreement. Every email is only accessible by one party, unless otherwise stated. And like you get your driver’s license, you have to accredit yourself or input some credentials to use your account. Now this account is exclusively for singular use, be it a person or a group of persons as one whole. Bang! There’s your cat. You see, just like a door is meant to keep people out, and by people I mean illegitimate access to your e-mail account, so every door is meant to shut whose already in, in. you can’t escape it. It’s your account and the Email companies know this. At least it tells on paper, fraud or not. and believe me, you don’t want me started on the Fraud talk. On the other hand, when the file moves. There is a file trail. Archived and waiting for someone, almost anyone, to either dig it up or threaten to dig it up. though you can simply print the registered timeline in your return mail details and avoid the blackmail. Heh..
Is it necessary if you can get your hands on these files and sue someone with it? No. Absolutely not. But, acting like you are rich is just as good as being rich. Sometimes it even pays off, and hell a lot more!!

Catch 22.
So what’s the catch. The catch is after you send the contract or copyrighted material, the second or third or a hundredth party always has to hit the Reply Mail button to validate the correspondence. Anything else like replying through a fresh mail or forwarded mail and I’ve wasted my day on you dumbheads, and broken my fingers as well.
Happy signing!


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