Legal Considerations

Virtual meetings and conferences are widely used by business organizations and other entities and with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, they emerged as a critical tool for team communication. Recording meetings and converting the speech into text with the help of audio transcription services preserves the details and allows for sharing of the information. But are there any legal considerations when recording virtual conferences?

Cloud-based video conferencing services like Zoom and Microsoft Teams allow you to meet with large groups and conduct one-on-one chat sessions via video or audio-only or both. You can record your meetings on these platforms and save the recordings on the cloud or your PC or Mac. It is legal to capture audio/video meetings and save the recordings, but there are specific rules that apply to this. There are federal and state wiretapping laws that may restrict your ability to record video meetings that capture sound.

Meeting hosts need to go by the rules to avoid legal problems. Here are some important points to note about recording online meetings:

  • Obtain Participants’ Consent: Meeting hosts should obtain attendees’ permission to capture their video and save sessions. Federal wiretapping laws in states many permit recording if one party (including you) to the phone call or conversation consents. Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia have adopted the “one-party consent” rule. Other states require consent by all parties to the communication. The ‘two-party consent states are California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington. When remote participants are located in different states or countries, it should be assumed that the two-party or all-party rule will apply.
  • Inform Participants in Advance that the Meeting will be Recorded: Before the meeting, inform participants that you will be recording the meeting. Before the meeting starts, Zoom automatically notifies each participant that it will be recorded. The meeting host should also verbally notify all parties that the meeting will be recorded. The participant can opt to stay in the session or to leave.
  • Notify Participants how you Intend to Record, use, and Share Video: As the meeting host, you may have to explain why the conversation will be recorded and ask for their consent to record it for that purpose. Attendees should be informed about and how the video will be shared and used. They can be given the option to participate without video or audio, which means no recording will be made. If they object to the recording of their image or voice, they can be offered the option to mute their audio and video and allowed to post questions only in the text chat window. If they want to discuss topics or ask questions without being recorded, you can opt to stop the Zoom recording and include “unrecorded” time throughout the session (www.berkeley.edu).
  • Key Takeaway: Following best practices for video conferencing and getting participants’ consent for recording the calls can help meeting hosts avoid civil / criminal liability. Zoom and other platforms have a consent button that participants need to click before the recording cam begin. While using this feature can reduce ambiguity on participants’ consent, the best way to obtain consent is by announcing before the meeting begins that it will be recorded. By continuing in the meeting, participants can be considered to have consented.

Benefits of Recording and Transcribing Virtual Meetings

  • Allows Team Members who Cannot be Present to Stay on the Page: Absent team members can review the recording and transcripts and provide insights and comments.
  • Flexibility to Set Timings to Suit the Majority: By recording meetings, you can avoid the need to reschedule them. You can fix a schedule that suits most people.
  • Captures Team Interactions: Recording and transcribing meetings allows companies to capture team interactions and other sessions. Team members can revisit the material to understand it better.
  • Preserves Training Sessions: Busy employees may not be able to devote their full attention to virtual training sessions. They can review the session later at their convenience if it is recorded and transcribed. Likewise, training session recordings and transcripts can be reused to train new employees.
  • Preserves Important Information for Future Use: Remote workers collect important information during client meetings. By recording these interactions, such information is preserved, allowing them to revisit it and confirm details. Audio transcription services can be used to document what was discussed for future use.

Recording meetings improves efficiency, but companies have to be aware of the legal and ethical perspectives involved. Companies can consider developing guidelines and procedures about remote work and virtual meetings and educate their employees about the best practices for holding and recording video conferences and meetings. Taking advantage of business transcription services will ensure that the information generated in online discussions are preserved for review and future use.