So, What Is a Fax, Anyway?

So, what is a fax, anyway?

Well, we all know what a fax is, but can we settle on a definition? Just what is a “fax/facsimile”?

We can actually turn to the US Federal courts for an answer. It turns out there is some considerable intellectual-property legal jousting going on out there, and one case actually resulted in a definition of “facsimile” or faxing. One ruling from the Federal District Court of Central California (paraphrasing) defines the word “fax,” or “facsimile,” as image data transmitted between two endpoints (fax terminals) that use the T.30 protocol to govern the transaction. Now the ruling didn’t specifically say “T.30″, but the intent was clear.

This means, for example, that sending or receiving an e-mail with an attached image file is not “faxing” or sending a fax. T.30 is the international standard that specifies the procedures for computer-to-computer (yes, all G3 fax terminals are computers) image exchange. If T.30 isn’t being executed on each end of the exchange, it isn’t a fax.

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