Recording Conversations With OneNote

OneNote is a great tool for note taking and information management. It also is a good tool for recording meetings and conversations. If you haven’t heard about ON’s ability to search audio recordings head over here to read more.

ON does a good job of indexing audio which can then be searched much as you’d search a text file.  This is especially convenient in cases when you know someone said something in a meeting but you don’t know exactly when.  By indexing your audio you don’t have to listen to the entire meeting again as long as the audio is of good quality.

What none of the marketing info covers are the laws that affect your ability to record those conversations and what you can do with those recordings after you’ve made them.

More after the jump.

Bear in mind that I’m not a lawyer (yay) but I have been recording more and more meetings and such and so wanted to know more about the legality of what I was doing.

While searching the net I came across all sorts of information about the federal and state laws covering recording of telephone conversations and very little covering face to face conversations. I was left with the impression that the same laws apply but would appreciate input from someone who knows.

In essence, there are two types of states you should be concerned about.

Those that allow you to record any conversation you’re a party to, without requiring consent from others and those that require consent from all participants.

For the states that only require single-party consent see here for a list (which incidentally mirrors federal law) don’t require you to gain permission from the participants as long as you are an active participant in the conversation.

You may wish to get permission just the same so that you’re protected from sue-happy individuals. See here for recommendations to reporters.

Some references call the other option "two-party notification" or "two-party consent" but that’s a misnomer. It’s actually all-party consent that’s required.  For those states everyone must consent or the recorder has to be turned off.

It gets more complicated if you’re recording a telephone, webcast or other call where participants are somewhere other than the state where you’re standing.  As I understand it, you’re safest if you follow the most restrictive laws.  For example while I live in Texas, if I were recording a conversation with a group of people and one of them was in California, I’d be safest getting permission from all the participants even though that’s not required in my state.

Throw in the laws of other countries and you could really end up in a quagmire.

To be safe, ask for permission when recording any conversation where you either don’t know the location of the other participants, if they’re in a location other than your own or if you live in a all-party state.

While one reporter recommended getting permission before turning the recorder on and then verify permission while recording, I’d be inclined to turn it on and ask if anyone objects just so it doesn’t make such an issue of it.

I’m interested in any feedback you may have.

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Michael Harrison

Husband, Programmer, Irish dancer, tinkerer, astronomer, layabout (as much as possible)

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