ZOOM: Does retaining the audio or video records of these virtual meetings expose coaches to legal liability?

With colleges and universities closed and recruiting opportunities put on hold, coaches across the country have been forced to face their fear of technology head-on and learn a few new tricks. Yes, it’s the dreaded four-letter word that is on everyone’s tongue. “Z-O-O-M” anyone?

Now depending on where you are in the spectrum of technology, the thought of video messaging can make a coach feel one of two ways: like Candace Parker at the end of a big game or like the new kid at school when walking into class for the first time.

Either way, video conferencing platforms have become required technology for coaches trying to recruit and maintain connections with their current team and others in their athletic department.

While coaches scramble to create new virtual backgrounds that allow “recruiting” from a tropical beach somewhere (which let’s face it isn’t happening anytime soon), they’ve failed to address one pretty important question:

Does retaining the audio or video records of these virtual meetings expose coaches to legal liability?

For the sake of this article, we will use “Zoom” as our default video conferencing software. Depending on who pays for the Zoom subscription, there are different ways of collecting these recordings. For instance: did you know cloud recording on Zoom is automatically enabled for paid subscribers? Recordings, including chat text, are recorded in the Zoom cloud. Zoom also offers local recording which will save files to your personal computer.

As a coach, if you are going to take part in any type of audio or video conferencing, especially with student-athletes, assistant coaches or support staff, it’s important to know the consent laws that govern your state.

You may be surprised to learn there are actually very few laws that prohibit video recording, without audio. Most recordings are legal with or without consent. Of course, as you would expect, there are laws that prohibit such recordings in places of expected privacy without consent. Places like bathrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms, and bedrooms.

But audio recording laws are different. Specifically, there are two types of laws regarding these recordings, often referred to as “One Party Consent” and “Two-Party Consent” laws.

Consent differs from state-to-state.

(See map below)

“One Party Consent” means that only one person (the person doing the recording) has to give permission to record the conversation. This means the person on the other end of the line does not have to be notified.

“Two-Party Consent” means the person recording the conversation must notify both (or all) of the people on the call that the conversation is being recorded.

Like everything else in athletics, it all comes down to our favorite phrase: ‘intent and consent’. We know, as coaches, that your intent is in the right place when recording and retaining these meetings. But consent matters too. Luckily, Zoom (and others) make it easy to gain consent from all parties involve and to allow them the option to not be a part of it if they choose not to.

Take a look at the ‘Settings’ page of your account. Go to the ‘Recording’ tab. There, you will find toggle switches for “recording disclaimer,” allowing you to select your desired setting.

If you choose to record the meeting you are holding, you can find the button to do so on the navigation bar at the bottom of your screen.

Since you enabled the “recording disclaimer” in your settings, meeting participants will now get a visual prompt (like this) and have the option to continue with the meeting or to opt-out.

And that’s it! With just a few quick steps and the consent feature enabled, you’ll soon be back to sleeping like a baby. And by taking a few minutes to enable these features, you’ll take a big step towards fulfilling some of your obligations under NCAA bylaw ‘Head Coach Responsibility.’ As you know, this is the bylaw that requires you, as a head coach, to maintain an atmosphere of compliance for yourself and your staff.

Coaches, maintaining an atmosphere of compliance for your protection and that of your athletic department doesn’t have to be time consuming or difficult. But as you already know, your documentation won’t write itself. As Benjamin Frankly famously stated “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. And we all know coaches are carrying around a lot more than a pound of challenges these days.

A big thank you to docUssist for this important information and blog!

To learn more about how docUssist can help you manage your program documentation and protect your professionally from legal risk and liability. Visit us at www.docUssist.org or sign up for a demo here.