In information handling, a hard copy is a permanent reproduction, or copy, in the form of a physical object, of any media suitable for direct use by a person (in particular paper), of displayed or transmitted data. Examples of hard copy include teleprinter pages, continuous printed tapes, facsimile pages, computer printouts, and radio photo prints.
Magnetic tapes, diskettes, and non printed punched paper tapes are not hard copies.
Dead-tree edition refers to a printed paper version of a written work, as opposed to digital alternatives such as a web page. It is a dysphemism for hard copy. Variations include dead-tree format and dead-tree-ware. "Dead-tree" refers to trees being cut down for raw material for producing paper. Newspapers are, sometimes pejoratively, referred to as the dead-tree-press. The Guardian website on 29 November 2006 wrote:
"Maybe this is more a multimedia victory for Jeff Randall himself: he did manage a dead-tree front page, web scoop, vodcast and major plug on the 10 O'clock news."
A related saying among computer fans is "You can't grep dead trees", from the Unix command grep meaning to search the contents of text files. This means that an advantage of keeping documents in digital form rather than on paper is that they can be more easily searched for specific contents. An exception are texts stored as digital images (digital facsimile), as they cannot be easily searched, except by sophisticated means such as optical character recognition or examining the infrequently used image metadata. On the other hand, paper copies have tremendous data integrity in proper conditions.
Related dysphemism include "tree carcass" for a book and "tree-killer" for a computer printer
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