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I'm working on a new zine series that I'm calling "Animals in Orbit: an exploration in conversation." Basically, the idea is to publish conversations I've collected and to describe how they relate to my life in a meaningful way blah blah blah. What I mean by collecting conversations is saved text messages, letters, emails, AIM conversations....but most importantly, conversations I've recorded with a voice recorder without the knowledge of those involved, besides myself. My question is...is it okay for me to publish the transcripts of these conversations? What would make it okay? Should I contact all involved and let them read what I wish to publish to get their approval? What if I can't get in contact with someone? Is it okay to just change their names? I was only planning on using their first names. I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions.

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While I doubt your average Joe would sue you for something like this, ETHICALLY I'd try to at least get the person(s0 permission first, especially those who had no intention of their voice and/or texts used in a public forum.
Depending on where these conversations were recorded, you could be treading on some legal issues:

http://www.rcfp.org/taping/index.html

Interesting idea for a zine, however. Just be careful.
I'd change ALL the person's names completely, just to be safe.

Yes, talking to the people in advance would be necessary if the general public is going to be reading this (in other words, you'll be publishing it). It's like a photographer taking candid photos at people's homes instead of in the general outdoors. One would expect privacy, so getting permission is important. If all the people expected privacy from you on the format they chose to talk to you with, you need to ask.
It's not that different. You're printing private coversatinos for teh general public to read.
I think I might have to do a combination. Ideally, I'd like to keep all the names the same, but since I don't know some of the people involved too well and might not be able to contact them...I'll have to change their names. The others, who are my friends, I think I'll be able to easily get permission from and still use their names. I've read in "Make a Zine" that even changing a name might not be enough to avoid libel, if there's enough information to determine who the person is.
Yeah. That's only if they get really mad. I guess it depends on the contents of the conversation. What are they talking about?
There is also the question of: Are these your stories to tell? For example, if you had a conversation with a friend about her being sexually assaulted... then that is not your story to tell. It is HER story. Or if you had a coversation with a pal about his alcoholism... again, that would be HIS story to tell, not yours.
The conversations aren't terribly personal, especially not to the point of sexual assault or abuse. I wouldn't be comfortable recording that without permission. One conversation is between a friend and I about another friend of ours who started smoking weed and flaking on us (didn't hang out with us anymore). Another is a very innocent conversation with a friend of mine where we discuss our different scars and how we got them. And another is from a party in which a guy I used to know in high school talks about a couple different stories, one relating to a fire he built in his backyard, and another from when he was in jail. I think the thing I would worry the most about is the thing with him, the guy who has been to jail. The things he says aren't really personal or serious, but maybe disclosing the fact that he has been to jail is not a good idea, or at least not revealing the crime.
It's a complicated issue so thanks for all of your input. I followed the link posted by Blake and it says that it is illegal to record or disclose a recording without the consent of all parties involved, in the state of Florida, which is where I am and the recordings took place. And it says consent is NOT required for non-electronic communication uttered by a person who does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in that communication. But I guess they would have reasonable expectation of privacy.
I don't want to say how they relate to my life in a meaningful way...that'd just give too much away. You'll have to read it :)
Oh yeah. it's very funny... until it happens to you and all your private stuff is thrown all over.

Zac Candy. said:
I think recording people's conversations without their knowledge is hilarious, it's so out there, I love it.
Really? THere is absolutly nothing in your life that you don't care if everyone knows? What you said about someone, whatever? Well, there are a lot of things only closer friends know about me and arn't public information. I wouldn't want one of them to record something I said and print it if everyone would know that I was the one who said it.

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