Okay, so I live in California and I have been researching lately on the matter of audio recording people without their consent through a phone. Now many people online are mostly concerned about recording other people without their consent for matters of taking to court or use against them in the future. I really don't care to record people for this purpose. Now, I want to record my typical conversations during the day with people I have in different matters, such as meeting up with a friend I haven't seen for a while and chatting up, reminiscing about past time, crack jokes and just have a good friendly conversation. Now the reason I want to record such incidents will just be for myself to rehear later on in the future and smile at the conversation we had, that if not recorded could have just been lost to time and just a distant memory. Technology allows us to treasure such occasions.
Now the question is and I know the obvious response would be just get the consent of the other person, though would I have to do it every time, since California has the two party consent law. I really would just like to go in the conversation naturally as the moment is and just talk freely as friends, but without having to say every time "Hey I want to record this conversation cause I want to rehear it latter on, is it okay with you." or when I meet a new girl and I feel that the conversation will be of good remembrance to either reflect on the point were she found me annoying and lost the chance to make a good impression or if I made a great impression from the start, to be able to later on, if we hit it off good and we start dating, just hear back on our first conversation. Now telling someone you just met, "Hey, I’m gonna record this" will surely throw off the person. Now my intentions won't ever be to use the recording against that person. But just for me to reflect on myself in a deeper sense, thanks to technology, that if not it would have just been lost to my memory, which is really not that good in point where things seems so natural in the sense.
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Your letter reminds me of a related column Papabear wrote about videotaping people in public (http://www.askpapabear.com/1/post/2012/10/is-it-legal-to-record-someone-in-public-without-permission.html). I’m glad you wrote me, because recording a phone conversation is different.
Federal law says that you may record a telephone conversation as long as at least one party in the conversation consents to being recorded. The one party can be you, or, if you are not actually participating, someone that you inform that they are being recorded and they consent to that. This is called “one-party consent.”
However, individual states also have their own laws, as you are apparently cognizant of. Some go by the one-party law, but others, including California, where you and I live, require that all parties being recorded know that they are being recorded. Although this is called “two-party consent,” it applies to all people participating in the conversation, so it applies to conference calls with lots of participants, for instance. (Read more here: http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/recording-phone-calls-and-conversations).
Now, if you make a recording in a state where the one-party system is allowed, and the other person also lives in your state or another state where it is allowed, then you do not have to inform the other person. BUT, if you and/or the other party lives in a two-party consent state, then all parties must be informed.
This is why it’s easier just to cover your bases and tell everyone on the phone that you are recording the conversation. And you really should do this at the beginning of the phone call so that there are no surprises and no potential for misunderstanding, legal or otherwise.
It’s a nice thought to record conversations with loved ones so that you may treasure them later, especially when it is during an important event such as a birthday or anniversary. I understand your concern that introducing the conversation with “Oh, by the way, I’m recording this, if that’s okay with you,” might put a damper on spontaneity, but it is still the wisest thing to do.
Hope that helps,
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