Posting transcript of phone call illegal?

If a person had a telephone conversation with an inept customer service rep and posted the general contents of that conversation on a message board, would that be illegal?

The conversation was not recorded as it was happening, and the posted version was not word-for-word, just a basic recap. Also, the posted version wasn’t particularly scathing, just humorously highlighting the ineptitude of the rep.

As legal action has been threatened, a cite would be helpful.

You need a lawyer, not man-off-the-street advice.

That said, I remember downloading a recording of one of these sorts of conversations where the caller who was getting the runaround told them he was recording the conversation, and the supervisor at the company he was calling told him he couldn’t do that without prior norification and permission.

He retorted that when he was on hold, the hold music was interspersed with messages saying that “this call may be recorded for quality purposes…” and therefore he had a grant of permission to record his call, seeing as how he felt he wasn’t getting the quality of service he was expecting. I thought that was pretty funny.

As long as your summary does not include references that could idenfity the responder or the company, I think you’re OK.

DISCLAIMER: All my legal training comes from watching Perry Mason.

Thanks, guys.

I’m not the one being threatened with legal action, but I’m a member here and thought I’d run it up the flagpole on this forum. Actually, the telephone converstion “transcript” was copied and pasted from a post on an entirely different board than the one being threatened.

The post does reference the company, but not the name of the person on the phone.

I think I was just a bit surprised at the legal threat. I have relayed the contents of many phone conversations before via spoken word and never considered that I might be sued for doing so. It seems strange to me that the contents of all telephone conversations must be kept in strict secrecy. I guess writing it as opposed to speaking it is the difference.

Possibly. You cannot publish the contents of a letter than you are sent, because those contents are considered to be the property of the writer - and in today’s law are automatically in copyright to the writer. You need the writer’s permission, in other words. This has been a complication for many biographies when permission has been withheld.

However, a recap, summary, or paraphrase of the letter is legal to publish, as long as the source material is not too closely copied. What “too closely” means keeps copyright attorneys in business, of course.

And corporate attorneys earn their retainers by sending out threatening letters. The letters may have no foundation in law, but no sensible individual wants to spend the money to fight even a bogus claim.

IANAL, but I can’t see any legal foundation for prohibiting a non-word-for-word recap. Not that that matters in the slightest in the real world.

After quite a bit of Googling, I can’t find any laws except for dealing with recording of conversations. As the company was based in Ohio, it looks like Ohio has a law where even recording is legal as long as it is done by one of the participants in the conversation. As this call was not recorded, just the guy’s recollection of the conversation, and he was a participant in the conversation, looks like the legal action is just a bluff. IANAL of course.

I love this. And it does point out teh importance of all those grammer lessons we had. The recording always says “may”. So when can we expect companies to switch to the proper “This call might be recorded for quality purposes…”

Nope, sorry, they’re using “may” correctly.

The use here is in the sense of " this call may, at our discretion, be recorded…" rather than “this call might, as part of a random sampling, be recorded…”

It’s analogous to this usage note from Theodore M. Bernstein’s The Careful Writer:

Apart from their use of “may”, does the fact that they’re notifying the caller they might be recording the call mean that the caller may also record the call? Both parties know that the call might be being recorded, so neither side can complain that they didn’t consent to being recorded.

Saying “we may record this call” is unambiguous. Saying “this call may be recorded” could mean they might be recording it (which is what they meant), or it could be interpreted as giving you permission to record it.

As to the rest of the OP, summarizing the conversation is probably not illegal (IANAL), but posting a summary doesn’t get around libel laws. If you want to ignore their legal threat, talk to a lawyer first. Even if you’re completely in the clear, fighting the suit can be very expensive.