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Vermont

Reporter's Recording Guide

Last updated June 2020

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Summary

There are no specific laws in Vermont addressing the recording of in-person, telephone or electronic conversations. However, under federal law, an individual who is a party to an in-person, telephone or electronic conversation, or who has the consent of one of the parties to the conversation, can lawfully record it, unless the person is doing so for the purpose of committing a criminal or tortious act. 18 U.S.C. § 2511.

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In-person conversations

There are no specific laws in Vermont addressing the recording of in-person conversations. However, under federal law, the consent of at least one party to a conversation is required to record “any oral communication uttered by a person exhibiting an expectation that such communication is not subject to interception under circumstances justifying such expectation.” 18 U.S.C. §§ 2510, 2511. Thus, under federal law, consent is not needed to record conversations in public where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.

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Telephone and electronic communications

There are no specific laws in Vermont addressing the recording of telephone or electronic conversations. However, under federal law, the consent of at least one party to any telephone conversation is required to record it. 18 U.S.C. § 2511. And because the provision of the federal law dealing with wireless communications applies to “any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature,” consent likewise is required to disclose the contents of text messages sent between wireless devices. 18 U.S.C. § 2510.

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Hidden cameras

It is a crime to photograph or record the “intimate areas” of a person or to photograph or record a person engaged in a sexual act without his or her knowledge or consent in a place or under circumstances where the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 2605.

It is also a crime to disclose any images obtained by these means. Id. The law, however, does not criminalize the use of recording devices for other purposes in areas to which the public has access or there is no reasonable expectation of privacy (e.g., filming conversations on public streets or in a hotel lobby).

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Criminal penalties

There are no specific laws in Vermont addressing the recording of in-person, telephone or electronic conversations. However, under federal law, illegally recording an in-person, telephone or electronic conversation is punishable by a fine, imprisonment for not more than five years, or both. 18 U.S.C. § 2511.

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Civil suits

There are no specific laws in Vermont addressing the recording of in-person, telephone or electronic conversations. However, under federal law, anyone whose telephone, electronic or oral conversation has been recorded or disclosed in violation of federal law can bring a civil suit for injunctive relief and/or to recover actual damages plus profits made by the violator, $100 a day for each day of violation, or $10,000, whichever is greater. 18 U.S.C. § 2520. An aggrieved party can also recover punitive damages, attorney’s fees and court costs. Id.

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Disclosing recordings

There are no specific laws in Vermont addressing disclosure of in-person, telephone or electronic conversations. However, under federal law, disclosing the contents of a telephone, electronic or oral conversation obtained through illegal recording is punishable by a fine, imprisonment for not more than five years, or both. 18 U.S.C. § 2511.

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