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Thread: Personal recording devices for encounters.

  1. #1
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    I made this into a new thread, so we didn't take over someone else's.


    ethernetweb wrote:
    Can you post links to the audio recorders that you would highly suggest for these types of situations? I think it would be great if people, including myself, would know what to look for.

    Thanks
    I found one that I personally really like for it's size and simplicity. However I could only find ONE place to buy it so I couldn't comparison shop =/

    http://www.jlmmerchandise.com/flash-...-recorder.html


    An additional bit of information to save yourself from an unlawful confiscation or charge for recording a conversation would be a link to the Michigan public recording law. I searched the legislature up and down, including google and was unable to find anything about 'public media recording' in Michigan. Props to anyone that can locate it.

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    Regular Member ISMOID's Avatar
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    I have the RCA VR5220-A. Got it from Wal-Mart for $34.76.
    Product Review – RCA VR5220-A Digital Voice Recorder

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    This is the one I use. It can upload to my laptop as well.



    http://www.rcaaudiovideo.com/product.aspx?product=393

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    Do these recorders have one touch record?

    Are you concerned that turning the device on as an encounter starts may be alarming in some way?

    With the recording device I found, the small usb flash drive/audio recorder, I was thinking it would make a good necklace piece. Just reach to your chest and push the button. Hard to take that as a threatening gesture. But it is a bit pricey, kinda disappointed I couldn't comparison shop for it. (hopefully someone else could find what I couldn't)

    Most people probably don't want to turn a recorder on and leave it running before they go out? It could somehow get turned off or lose it's charge without your knowledge.

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    Regular Member Springfield Smitty's Avatar
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    This is the one I bought and use. I also use it with a lapel microphone when I officiate sports games. Very good quality. I am AMAZED at the quality and detail it picks up from long distances (with the lapel mic).

    Can break up files into different segments and upload to the CPU.

    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage....=1218061082065

    BTW, the lapel mic was only $20 at radio shack.
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    Regular Member Springfield Smitty's Avatar
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    With the one I carry, it does have one touch recording and it has a "lock" button that you can use to protect it from stopping while it is recording, or keep it from starting to record (this turns it off) so that you can preserve the battery. I use rechargeable batteries and can record for about 5 hours on a charge.
    -U.S. Army Veteran (2002-2005) 11BVB4 (Infantry, Airborne, Ranger, some other stuff) SGT (E-5)
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    I am not an attorney. None of my statements should be accepted, nor are they intended to be offered, as legal advice or fact of law.

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    This is what I carry:

    http://amzn.com/B00142VMMS

    It is basically a USB drive that records stereo audio. It records directly to MP3 files at any number of qualities (highest quality can store 18 hours at a time, lowest, well over 200 hours).

    Batteries last 8-9 hours (1 AAA battery). Has a lock switch on the back, and a lanyard post.

    Great little recorder.

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    I bought mine at Sam's Club for about $60.

    http://www.olympusamerica.com/cpg_se...=2&id=1322

    • it's slim
    • has one touch recording with the lock feature.
    • Serves as a USB drive storage device, and plugs into usb drive just like one.
    • USB makes for easy download.
    • good sound quality (espicially with a stereo mic)

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    Regular Member Bronson's Avatar
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    ethernetweb wrote:
    I made this into a new thread, so we didn't take over someone else's.


    I found one that I personally really like for it's size and simplicity. However I could only find ONE place to buy it so I couldn't comparison shop =/

    http://www.jlmmerchandise.com/flash-...-recorder.html
    Here it is for $50.00

    http://www.spygadgets.com/Merchant2/...y_Code=DIGITAL

    They also have the recording pens and watches.

    Bronson
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    At the last OC picnic, Jim Simmons was there (he's a lawyer for those of you who don't know). And said generally, recordings without permission are not admissible in court. He said sometimes you can get a judge to allow it but generally not. Its not legal to record somebody without their permission.

    So I wouldn't blow a ton of money on a recording device. Get a cheapo (with a good mic) and hope that you get a good judge.

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    DISCLAIMER: I am not a lawyer and anything contributed by me is not to be taken as legal advice!

    I may be wrong, but I interpret it differently.
    MCL §750.539c: 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.

    MCL §750.539a: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.
    In this context I construe "public" to be a place where one can reasonably expect to be subject to surveillance, or a place to which the public or substantial group of the public have access.

    Most encounters with police occur in "public places" as defined by this statute. So would discourse in a "public" place not be considered "public" discourse?

    Additionally, a Michigan Court (Sullivan v. Gray) ruled that a participant in a private conversation may lawfully record it because the term "eavesdrop" refers only to overhearing or recording the private conversations of others. However, that is only court opinion and a Michigan Supreme Court ruling has not yet been made.

    I certainly concede that your lawyer friend is probably more versed in regard to law than I am, I just thought that I would state my opinion (although opinion usually doesn't get you far in court).

    sources:

    http://www.legislature.mi.gov/%28S%2...e=mcl-750-539c

    http://www.legislature.mi.gov/%28S%2...e=mcl-750-539a

    I apologize in advance if this post deviates from the topic at hand, but I found it at least somewhat relevant. Please move it to a new thread if deemed necessary.

    -Noclue





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    While I have not yet needed to use it, my intent has always been to inform the officer that I am recording our encounter.

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    @bronson - thanks! I'm glad there was another place to shop for it.


    @astrogiblet - I believe that in a public place it is legal. Otherwise, the reporters would not be able to provide media to the world. This also applies if you are recording in a public place, exhibitionism - I was 99% sure this was all true and as 'noclue' has posted the laws I was asking for to validate this, I am now 100% sure.

    There is also a section of law somewhere that states in a public setting, only one party need be aware of such recording. (yourself is one) But this may pertain to just phone calls. I am not sure about this. It would also be nice to find in the legislature.


    @noclue - thank you for finding that. It is mainly what I was looking for.



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    Anti-Saldana Freedom Fighter Venator's Avatar
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    astrogiblet wrote:
    At the last OC picnic, Jim Simmons was there (he's a lawyer for those of you who don't know). And said generally, recordings without permission are not admissible in court. He said sometimes you can get a judge to allow it but generally not. Its not legal to record somebody without their permission.

    So I wouldn't blow a ton of money on a recording device. Get a cheapo (with a good mic) and hope that you get a good judge.
    I hate to say it but Jim is sometimes wrong. It is his opinion. Granted a recording is not admissible in court, so what, the recording is to be use in a complaint against a LEO that claims one thing and you another.

    There is no expectation of privacy in public places. You can record people outside at anytime (Think of tourist video taping a street scene or the media). You have the right to record public servants going about their duties.

    Case law shows that if you tape a PRIVATE conversation between two parties that do not know they are being recorded is illegal. But taping an interaction between an officer yourself is not.

    A tape recorder is about the cheapest insurance you can buy. I highly recommend one.

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    *The information contained above is not meant to be legal advice, but is solely intended as a starting point for further research. These are my opinions, if you have further questions it is advisable to seek out an attorney that is well versed in firearm law.

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    Regular Member PDinDetroit's Avatar
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    I carry the Olympus VN-5200PC. I got it from Costco for under $50. It records Windows Media Audio (WMA) and can directly connect to a PC and download/play the WMA File. It has separate quality settings, based upon the WMA Spec.

    http://www.olympusamerica.com/cpg_se...p?product=1389

    It did not come with a wrist/neck strap, so that is the only drawback so far.
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    Venator wrote:
    There is no expectation of privacy in public places. You can record people outside at anytime (Think of tourist video taping a street scene or the media). You have the right to record public servants going about their duties.
    So would a business such as Target, Walmart, Best Buy, etc, be considered a private place?

    For example, you are OC in an establishment such as this and the police approach you inside of the store, would you have to let them know you are recording the conversation if you were in there?

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    Anti-Saldana Freedom Fighter Venator's Avatar
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    T Vance wrote:
    Venator wrote:
    There is no expectation of privacy in public places. You can record people outside at anytime (Think of tourist video taping a street scene or the media). You have the right to record public servants going about their duties.
    So would a business such as Target, Walmart, Best Buy, etc, be considered a private place?

    For example, you are OC in an establishment such as this and the police approach you inside of the store, would you have to let them know you are recording the conversation if you were in there?
    If the property is open to the public it is a public place with private property rights. My opinion is that you could record them as they are still public officials and at least one person knows you are being taped...you. This is not legal advice.
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    *The information contained above is not meant to be legal advice, but is solely intended as a starting point for further research. These are my opinions, if you have further questions it is advisable to seek out an attorney that is well versed in firearm law.

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    T Vance wrote:
    Venator wrote:
    There is no expectation of privacy in public places. You can record people outside at anytime (Think of tourist video taping a street scene or the media). You have the right to record public servants going about their duties.
    So would a business such as Target, Walmart, Best Buy, etc, be considered a private place?

    For example, you are OC in an establishment such as this and the police approach you inside of the store, would you have to let them know you are recording the conversation if you were in there?
    There seems to be a lot of conflicting opinion in different case law and legislature that I have studied. For example, the definition of private in the statute above does not include any information regarding private property (i.e. businesses, homes, etc.). Nor does it mention public servants or officials.

    I am currently in the process of researching and compiling appropriate case law, court opinion, and legislature on federal, state, and local levels regarding recording of public and private conversations.

    If people are interested, I will make a separate thread once I feel I have enough information to spark interesting and informative discussion.

    -Noclue

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    I guess I was just providing some food for thought. I know lawyers can be wrong.

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    T Vance wrote:
    Venator wrote:
    There is no expectation of privacy in public places. You can recas TWalmartWalmart nessnytimeas TWalmartWalmart video taping a street scene or the media). You have the right to record public servants going about their duties.
    as TWalmartWalmart
    ness such as TWalmartWalmart, Best Buy, etc, be considered a private place?

    For example, you are OC in an establishment such as this and the police approach you inside of the store, would you have to let them know you are recording the conversation if you were in there?
    Wouldn't the fact that places like Target, Wal~mart and Best Buy have video surveillance in store negate any assumption of privacy on the property even though the stores are private property, so any kind of recording of events inside a place with surveillance would not be thought of as private under the law regardless of who was doing the recording?

    I was at the Dream Cruise and saw a sign posted on the corner of 13 and Woodward at Northwood shopping center warning that anything that took place on the premises was being videoed and would be broadcast so to not assume anything that you would do on the premises would be private. This was a cardboard sign they put up for the event, but if a person knows that there is surveillance they should not assume that whatever takes place would be private. I have seen permanent signs posted in Meijer's parking lot warning of surveillance on the premises as well.



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    Regular Member DanM's Avatar
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    astrogiblet wrote:
    At the last OC picnic, Jim Simmons was there (he's a lawyer for those of you who don't know). And said generally, recordings without permission are not admissible in court. He said sometimes you can get a judge to allow it but generally not. Its not legal to record somebody without their permission.

    So I wouldn't blow a ton of money on a recording device. Get a cheapo (with a good mic) and hope that you get a good judge.
    In Michigan, it is permissible for you to record a conversation you are a party to (whether in person or on a phone) without the knowledge or consent of others in the conversation.

    In Michigan, it is NOT permissible to record a conversation you areNOT party to without the knowledge and consent of all parties to the conversation.

    The above was explained to me by my attorney during a consultation for a matter in which Icovertly recordedsome conversations I wasa party to.

    So, it is legal to record somebody else without their permission, IF you are party to a conversation with them.

    I don't know about admissibility in court of a recording of a conversation with a non-LEO.

    I believe yourrecording of a conversation between you and a LEO, with our without his knowledge,would be admissible because LEO interactions with citizens generally are held to be public, not private, interactions. After all, they almost always ARE recording their interaction with YOU, and their recordings are items of public record. Also, there are numerous court cases in which citizen recorded video or audio of police interaction with other citizens are placed in evidence.
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    DanM wrote:
    astrogiblet wrote:
    At the last OC picnic, Jim Simmons was there (he's a lawyer for those of you who don't know). And said generally, recordings without permission are not admissible in court. He said sometimes you can get a judge to allow it but generally not. Its not legal to record somebody without their permission.

    So I wouldn't blow a ton of money on a recording device. Get a cheapo (with a good mic) and hope that you get a good judge.
    In Michigan, it is permissible for you to record a conversation you are a party to (whether in person or on a phone) without the knowledge or consent of others in the conversation.

    In Michigan, it is NOT permissible to record a conversation you areNOT party to without the knowledge and consent of all parties to the conversation.

    The above was explained to me by my attorney during a consultation for a matter in which IÂ*covertly recordedÂ*some conversations I wasÂ*a party to.

    So, it is legal to record somebody else without their permission, IF you are party to a conversation with them.

    I don't know about admissibility in court of a recording of a conversation with a non-LEO.

    I believe yourÂ*recording of a conversation between you and a LEO, with our without his knowledge,Â*would be admissible because LEO interactions with citizens generally are held to be public, not private, interactions.Â* After all, they almost always ARE recording their interaction with YOU, and their recordings are items of public record.Â* Also, there are numerous court cases in which citizen recorded video or audio of police interaction with other citizens are placed in evidence.
    +1 This is both my interpretation, as well as a lawyer friend's interpretation of the law. The Definition of "Eavesdropping" in the statute explicitly says "conversatoin of others." You can't eavesdrop on your own conversation.

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    Although I am inclined to concur with both of your interpretations, I think it remains an appropriate subject of debate as it could be easily argued and interpreted in many different ways. Also, no official ruling regarding its legality has been made.

    That being said, I am at least moderately satisfied with my/our interpretation(s) enough to let sleeping dogs lie.

  24. #24
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    One last informational post:

    from: http://www.rcfp.org/taping/states/michigan.html

    Michigan

    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.

    In addition, any individual who divulges information he knows, or reasonably should know, was obtained through illegal eavesdropping is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to two years and a fine of up to $2,000. Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.539e. Civil liability for actual and punitive damages also are sanctioned. Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.539h.

    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).

    The state Supreme Court stated in a July 1999 ruling that a participant in a conversation “may not unilaterally nullify other participants’ expectations of privacy by secretly broadcasting the conversation” and that the overriding inquiry should be whether the parties “intended and reasonably expected that the conversation was private.” Therefore, it is likely that a recording party may not broadcast a recorded conversation without the consent of all parties. Dickerson v. Raphael, 601 N.W.2d 108 (Mich. 1999).

    It is a felony to observe, photograph or eavesdrop on a person in a private place without the person’s consent. Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.539d. A private place is a place where one may reasonably expect to be safe from intrusion or surveillance, but not a place where the public has access. Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.539a.

    Additionally, the Court of Appeals of Michigan held in 2006 that neither the secretary to a school district superintendent who allegedly circulated a facsimile sent to the superintendent, nor those who saw the facsimile, were liable under the state eavesdropping statute, since the facsimile machine was not used to record or access the messages sent to the superintendent. Vollmar v. Laura, 2006 WL 1008995 (Mich. Ct. App. 2006) (Unreported).
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  25. #25
    Anti-Saldana Freedom Fighter Venator's Avatar
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    DrTodd wrote:
    One last informational post:

    from: http://www.rcfp.org/taping/states/michigan.html

    Michigan

    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.
    Again I interpret to mean a third party recording a conversation. The bold implies this, by stating you can't record a conversation between two OTHER people even if you were there in person (as an observer and as a non-participant in the conversation).
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    *The information contained above is not meant to be legal advice, but is solely intended as a starting point for further research. These are my opinions, if you have further questions it is advisable to seek out an attorney that is well versed in firearm law.

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