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The 190th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

AN ACT RELATIVE TO ELECTRONIC PUBLICATION OF CERTAIN LEGAL NOTICES

     Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same as follows:
     SECTION 1.  Chapter 4 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following section:-
     Section 13.  (a)  As used in this section, “statewide website” shall mean a website established and maintained as a repository for legal notices and operated as a cooperative effort of a majority of Massachusetts newspapers that distribute newspapers to subscribers residing in the commonwealth.
     (b)  If a person, corporation, state agency, including its political subdivisions, a state authority, including its political subdivisions, municipality, including its political subdivisions, or other legal entity is required by a statute, ordinance, by-law or judicial order to publish a legal notice in a newspaper or newspaper of general circulation, the person, corporation, agency, authority, municipality or other legal entity shall publish said notice in a newspaper which shall ensure that the legal notice appears in:  (i) a newspaper’s print publication; (ii) on the newspaper’s website; and  (iii) on a statewide website that may be maintained as a repository for such notices; provided, however, that if a newspaper does not maintain its own website, publication on a statewide website and reference to the statewide website in the print publication notice shall satisfy the requirement of publication on the newspaper’s website.
     (c)  When publishing legal notices on a newspaper’s website or a statewide website, the operator of the website shall:
          (i)  ensure access by the public to the website at all times, other than during website maintenance or due to causes beyond the operator’s control;
          (ii)  make the full text of legal notices available in a searchable format for the period of time that the legal notice is required to be posted;
          (iii)  ensure that the website substantially complies with the accessibility standards of section 508 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended and codified at 29 U.S.C. section 794d;
          (iv)  provide access to view legal notices on the website, and to perform searches for legal notices on such websites, for no fee; provided, that operators of newspaper websites may charge a fee for enhanced search and customized content delivery features;
          (v)  maintain an archive of legal notices that are no longer displayed on the website for at least 90 days; and
          (vi)  charge no additional fee for publication on a website in excess of the fee for publishing the legal notice in the print newspaper.
     (d)  An error in a legal notice published on a newspaper’s website or the statewide website that is the result of (i) an error of the website operator; or (ii) a temporary website outage or service interruption that prevents the publication or display of a legal notice on the website shall not constitute a defect in publication of the legal notice; provided, however, that the legal notice appears correctly in the newspaper’s print publication and satisfies all other legal notice requirements.
     SECTION 2. This act shall take effect 180 days after passage.

Approved, July 25, 2016.