The Uniform Law Commission (ULC) recently approved the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act. Find links to the latest UELMA draft and other documents and more at the June 11, 2011, Legal Informatics blog post: Uniform Electronic Material Act Approved by ULC.
For more about official, authenticated laws, follow the links at the June 11, 2011, AACPLL blog post, National inventory of primary legal materials, including a link to the seminal AALL State-by-State Report on Authentication of Online Legal Resources and updates.
Law librarians, lawyers, legislators, and others have been working on this problem for a very long time. The problem: most digital (including online) statutes and other legal research materials are not official, authenticated, and are only prima facie evidence of the law.
If you think about it, this makes (some) sense. Online information is transitory, hackable, rewritable, and all those other –ables that make us nervous about living online when serious business must be transacted.
Also, historically, print and more recently microfilm have been the accepted standard for archiving official records. While it is possible to rewrite law books (and other books) and say “it’s the law,” it’s not so easy to fool everyone all the time when we each have in hand a copy of the officially published statutes and the print or microfilm in a vault or under the stewardship of government archives librarians.
For another interesting view of this problem, see: Law Library Journal (LLJ), Spring 2011, article: “The Trap of Medium-Neutral Citation, or Why a Historical-Critical Edition of State Constitutions Is Necessary,” by Horst Dippel, LLJ vol. 103:2 (2011)