Webinars and web conferences only happen once, and may contain important information you want to hold on to for later. That’s why so many web conferencing software platforms have the capability to record. While it may seem like no big deal, it is essential to get permission from those you are conferencing with in accordance with the recording consent laws of your state/country.
The consequences of not obtaining consent prior to recording a web conference can be serious. Fines and even jail time can apply if word gets back to the other person and they take legal action. Aside from being illegal, it’s also a matter of common courtesy: If you were being recorded, even for something as basic as a work meeting, wouldn’t you want to know? The simplest rule when it comes to recording a videoconference is “just ask.”
Know Your Laws
Different states, provinces, countries, etc. have different recording consent laws. Especially if you’ve recently moved locations, or have offices in multiple locations, it is important to know what laws you need to abide by to be compliant. In the U.S., there are two main types of recording consent laws: one-party consent and all-party consent.
One-party consent is just as it sounds: at least one person being recorded has to agree to the recording. If there are others present, they need not know that the recording is going on. This would come into play if you are holding a virtual meeting with a group from another company, and you only tell the leader of the group that the session is being recorded. It would also apply if you are meeting with just one other person – you know about the recording, so it’s OK to record because you count as one person from the participating party. Many U.S. states have adopted one-party consent.
All-Party Consent (or Two-Party Consent)
All-party consent is more stringent and requires that everyone in attendance at a meeting must give their permission for the session to be recorded. Without this permission, recording anyone in a web conference or other setting is illegal under all-party consent. Some laws make reference to two-party consent; this can be a little misleading because it really means all-party consent (the parties being the one recording and the one being recorded). There are several U.S. states that have adopted all-party consent, such as California and Florida. The Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press has organized a helpful recording guide that gives a state-by-state breakdown of recording laws.
Web Conferencing Across Borders
When holding a web conference with parties in another state or country, the laws are less clear. Some interpretations from court cases have stated that calls across state lines fall under federal jurisdiction and one-party consent. However, it’s better not to take chances and to treat such calls carefully by following the all-party consent statute.
Record Without Worry: Do the Right Thing
Do your own research about what consent statute you need to be following for each of your web conference calls. Or, for peace of mind, just go ahead and get everyone’s permission to record. This can be done in writing, on the recording itself, or both – as long as there’s a record of it. Recording a webinar or web conference meeting helps get the most out of it and preserves the content of the session for future use. For a worry-free recording, follow the laws of your jurisdiction.