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Recording Background Conversations/Noise

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  • Recording Background Conversations/Noise


    I'm currently helping with a project that requires background noise to be recorded. We are not intending on recording discernible conversations and we will not be publishing these recordings, but we want to check on technicalities. (Also, this team is located in Virginia. Not sure if there will be laws/technicalities that can generalize across states.)

    For example,
    If we are recording the general sounds of a cafe/restaurant, and there are people sitting in the booth next to us, does a waiver need to be signed?
    They could be seated elsewhere if the equipment makes them uncomfortable, but what about in a place with assigned seating, like a stadium for sporting event or an airplane?

    Additionally, if a conversation is happening close to the equipment, how long can that conversation be recorded before it becomes "discernible"? For example, passerby conversations are okay, but what if those passerby decide to stand around and speak to one another?


  • #2
    First, you will need permission from the cafe/restaurant you will be recording in. Second, if your mic is placed in such a area that it can distinctly record actual patron conversations, then you will need release forms from those who you are recording. if your mic is placed well away from the seating area such that you only record the din of the background noise, than you should be fine. However, you will also have to notify the patrons that they are being recorded, and if they don’t want to be, you may have to hold off until they’ve left.

    Anywhere that is considered private property, such as a place of business, will require you to obtain permission (most likely in written form), and most likely release forms if actual conversations are being recorded.

    - Wolf