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Thread: Michigan recording laws

  1. #1
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    Michigan recording laws

    What are Michigan's laws in regards to recording conversations? Is it different for in person vs. telephone conversations?

    If I want to record my conversation with someone do I need to tell them I'm recording it?

    For example if I call a politician to complain, could I record the phone call without telling them in case they say something stupid, or incriminating (or try to say that I did.)?

    What about if I met them in their office, could I have a voice recorder, or hidden camera recording without telling them?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Small_Arms_Collector View Post
    What are Michigan's laws in regards to recording conversations? Is it different for in person vs. telephone conversations?

    If I want to record my conversation with someone do I need to tell them I'm recording it?

    For example if I call a politician to complain, could I record the phone call without telling them in case they say something stupid, or incriminating (or try to say that I did.)?

    What about if I met them in their office, could I have a voice recorder, or hidden camera recording without telling them?


    Any person who willfully uses any device to overhear or record a conversation without the consent of all parties is guilty of illegal eavesdropping, whether or not they were present for the conversation. Illegal eavesdropping can be punished as a felony carrying a jail term of up to two years and a fine of up to $2,000. Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.539c.

    more:
    http://www.rcfp.org/can-we-tape/michigan

  3. #3
    Michigan Moderator Shadow Bear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blk97F150 View Post
    Any person who willfully uses any device to overhear or record a conversation without the consent of all parties is guilty of illegal eavesdropping, whether or not they were present for the conversation. Illegal eavesdropping can be punished as a felony carrying a jail term of up to two years and a fine of up to $2,000. Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.539c.

    more:
    http://www.rcfp.org/can-we-tape/michigan
    The salient portion of that site reads:

    "The eavesdropping statute has been interpreted by one court as applying only to situations in which a third party has intercepted a communication. This interpretation allows a participant in a conversation to record that conversation without the permission of other parties. Sullivan v. Gray, 324 N.W.2d 58 (Mich. Ct. App. 1982)."

    As long as you are part of the conversation, no permission is required.
    'If the people are not ready for the exercise of the non-violence of the brave, they must be ready for the use of force in self defense. There should be no camouflage.....it must never be secret.' MK Gandhi II-146 (Gandhi on Non-Violence)-- Gandhi supports open carry!

    'There is nothing more demoralizing than the fake non-violence of the weak and impotent.' MK Gandhi II-153 (Gandhi on Non-Violence)

  4. #4
    Regular Member TheSzerdi's Avatar
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    THE MICHIGAN PENAL CODE (EXCERPT)
    Act 328 of 1931


    750.539c Eavesdropping upon private conversation.
    Sec. 539c.

    Any person who is present or who is not present during a private conversation and who wilfully uses any device to eavesdrop upon the conversation without the consent of all parties thereto, or who knowingly aids, employs or procures another person to do the same in violation of this section, is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in a state prison for not more than 2 years or by a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both.


    History: Add. 1966, Act 319, Eff. Mar. 10, 1967
    Link to mi.gov law.

    As I understand it this only applies to third parties who are not part of the conversation. Therefore you can record anyone, anytime, without informing or obtaining consent if you are party to the conversation.

    Edit to add: You may record without informing or obtaining consent even if you are not party to the conversation if it is in public. See next post for law quote.

    I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, merely my opinion.
    Last edited by TheSzerdi; 05-18-2012 at 08:19 AM.

  5. #5
    Regular Member TheSzerdi's Avatar
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    THE MICHIGAN PENAL CODE (EXCERPT)
    Act 328 of 1931


    750.539a Definitions.
    Sec. 539a.

    As used in sections 539a to 539i:

    (1) “Private place” means a place where one may reasonably expect to be safe from casual or hostile intrusion or surveillance but does not include a place to which the public or substantial group of the public has access.

    (2) “Eavesdrop” or “eavesdropping” means to overhear, record, amplify or transmit any part of the private discourse of others without the permission of all persons engaged in the discourse. Neither this definition or any other provision of this act shall modify or affect any law or regulation concerning interception, divulgence or recording of messages transmitted by communications common carriers.

    (3) “Surveillance” means to secretly observe the activities of another person for the purpose of spying upon and invading the privacy of the person observed.

    (4) “Person” means any individual, partnership, corporation or association.


    History: Add. 1966, Act 319, Eff. Mar. 10, 1967
    Link to mi.gov law.

    I believe this supports my opinion.

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