Why You Can't Afford to Ignore Evidentiary Media Any Longer

As we all know, the size of archived data is exploding. What you may not know is that according to Gartner, 80 percent of all data is unstructured, which includes human-generated enterprise content such as presentations and audio and video media—most of which is currently unsearchable.

Audio and video recordings are discoverable in legal and compliance matters, and those recordings may hold key information about a case. Whether it’s a voicemail left by a rogue trader, a call center employee that makes unauthorized guarantees to close a transaction, or a video conference where the key patent in a litigation was discussed on a whiteboard, these types of files can include information that would make or break a case. 

What happens if you miss these important events and they are discovered later? Or the opposing side asks for this information and you are not prepared to comply?

Judges are now issuing sanctions for the mishandling of evidentiary media, so you need to be ready.

Fortunately, there is good news.

Multimedia Data Isn’t Cost-prohibitive in Today’s e-Discovery Landscape

Though the volume of multimedia data has grown abundantly in recent years, the costs involved in collecting, processing, and reviewing it have significantly decreased. Here’s why.

The first cost saver: targeted collection. The abundance of data kept on personal and work-related devices and file storage locations can be inordinate, whatever its type. A targeted approach for collecting potentially relevant media to save costs is as important as collecting any potentially relevant emails—but it doesn’t mean you have to “collect everything.” Close collaboration between legal, e-discovery, and consultant teams to identify the right data to collect is an excellent way to ensure all considerations are covered during the collection process. It means your collection will be both holistic and realistic, and as little chaff will be included in the harvest as possible.

Second, the costs of processing media have declined drastically. Because these data types have become so pervasive, the technology required to ingest them has made big strides—and that means the effort involved has been greatly reduced. New media and artificial intelligence engines are now integrated within review platforms like Relativity, and utility cloud options such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services make it easier and more cost effective to store this data—with the built-in ability to scale up or down as needed—so once it’s processed, storage fees won’t price case teams out of actually gleaning insights from multimedia data, either. In many cases, it’s no longer cost-prohibitive to investigate multimedia just as you would any other form of data.

When it comes to review, audio and video analysis is becoming more commonplace and important for discovery purposes. A great number of case teams and service providers have battle-tested, tried-and-true methods for handling this data either within or alongside a traditional review, so folks who are new to multimedia discovery don’t have to simply go it alone and hope for the best. That also means a more sophisticated, predictable, and reasonable pricing structure among many consultant firms.

The Current Landscape of Multimedia Review

Bearing the above advancements in mind, here’s a quick look at what a modern approach to multimedia e-discovery might look like.

Keep in mind that a critical component of preparing for a case involving multimedia data is a proper custodian interview process. Ensure you’re speaking with custodians early on, before collection, to get a good handle on what type of data they have that may be involved—and ask detailed questions to ensure you understand the scope and diversity of data that they have to present.

Processing and Project Setup

Use the insights gained during custodian interviews and early case assessment to ingest and analyze multimedia files appropriately and make targeted media searchable by processing them in Relativity. Once the documents have been processed and made searchable—via means like automated transcription—you can treat them like any other file in your workspace. For example, an excellent place to start is leveraging Relativity Analytics to cluster the data along with your emails and other documents, giving you a big-picture view of trends in the entire data set at once, with no user input required.


Reviewing multimedia records side by side with other relevant data means you can have a complete understanding of your legal matter, without gaps caused by missing file types or confusion caused by entirely separate reviews. You can now have one overall view of the entire content you’ve collected from each custodian. All of their e-mails, voicemails, recorded calls, and video conference calls are accounted for in one searchable database.

After review, you can then send the media files that have been tagged relevant for a full manual transcription with a click of a button. This centralized access makes it easy to prepare for your next employee interview or deposition.

No matter what tool you’re using, it’s critical to ensure reviewers and project managers know what to expect when it comes to multimedia data during the review project. Provide hands-on training so they know how to recognize and view audio or visual files, offer insights into what types of data they might expect—and how important they may be—given what you learned during the custodian interviews, and specify any changes to coding protocols or search results that they should be aware of. A good, detailed conversation on this subject, as well as support throughout the project, will help you lock down a smooth process and foster insights that will benefit your team well into the future—when more and more multimedia data and projects will be inevitable.

Additionally, be sure to explore your options when it comes to technology. A diverse ecosystem of tools is out there to help you nagivate multimedia review, foreign language data, project management, and everything in between.

Michael McDonald is general manager of legal and compliance at Veritone. He has more than a decade of experience in legal, IT, and software.