I took a Business Law class and was told from the professer that it is legal to tape record a conversation without the other knowing of it as long as not to publicize it such as on TV or Internet. I am now in Cosmetology School. I recorded a small conversation of six girls in the breakroom, shouting, laughing and swearing out loud the whole building can hear it. We work on the public for practice at our own stations. There are public people and kids being exposed to this. I just wanted to show a couple friends all the B.S. that goes on in that school everyday. The girls searched my bag and found the recorder and turned it in to the office. I was called into the office and was told that it is illegal by invasion of privacy. How can it be private when the public can hear it all anyway. He said I can't have my recorder back until I graduate. Can he do that? Were the girls also invasion of privacy by searching my bag and taking my recorder? Please Help. Thank You
1 Answer from Attorneys
Re: Recording Conversations
In Nebraska, it is legal to record a conversation you are a party to without consent or knowledge of the other party. However, depending on how the contents of that recording is used; you may be liable to civil suit for invasion of privacy. On the other hand, leaving a recording device on in a room while you are not present and a party to the conversation may violate state or federal statutes related to electronic surveillance and monitoring. Each case is decided on the facts unique to that case; but the central element hinges on whether the recorded parties had "a reasonable expectation of privacy". It is possible for you to do something that is not a criminal offense, but still be held liable to a civil lawsuit. The girls searching your purse is both a criminal act and a cause of action for a civil suit. The school administrator may not legally keep your recording device nor expel you from the school unless your actions violated a written policy of the school that was in place when you enrolled. The administrator is subject to both criminal and civil liability to retain your recorder. I doubt that any attorney would take your case without a substantial retainer paid upfront.
Your post inquires as to what is legal, rather than what is smart. It is not a smart idea to indiscriminately record other people's conversations whether or not it is legal to do so. It will antagonize other people, alienate potential friends, and generally cost you far more than your playful game is worth. You need to grow up and realize that you have social responsibilities as well as legal duties.