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November 16, 2009 11:37 AM   Subscribe

Do I have the right to transcribe and publish a recording of a psychic reading (I was the client)?

Nearly ten years ago I saw a psychic and at the conclusion of the appointment she gave me a cassette tape recording of our conversation over the previous hour. I no longer believe in psychics, and I think a line-by-line analysis of the reading would be interesting to myself and other skeptics - do I have the right to transcribe and publish the recording online? Do I have to get her permission? I have nothing against this psychic in particular, and have no intention of publishing her name or any identifying information. I don't make any money off my blog - no ads or anything.

I am located in Canada.
posted by arcticwoman to Law & Government (14 answers total)
 
I am not your lawyer; this is not legal advice.

Under the copyright act, the maker of the sound recording has the sole right to publish it, etc... so it would depend on whether you were the recorder or she were the recorder. Was it her machinery that recorded it or did you take in a cassette recorder?

In any event, as a co-performer (as distinct from the recorder) on the recording, she would be entitled to an equal share of any profits it generated.
posted by modernnomad at 11:42 AM on November 16, 2009


It was her machinery. My blog does not generate a profit.

Would it make a difference if I published only bits and pieces of it (fair use? critique?) vs the whole thing?
posted by arcticwoman at 11:45 AM on November 16, 2009


I believe that in Canada, as long as one party knows that the recording is taking place, it is legal. This may not be correct. We were told this when I was working phone support and calls were being recorded. Consult your lawyer for definitive advice.

As far as the transcript being of use to skeptics, only if they don't know how to do research. Randi did something similar. There are a number of books and pamphlets on open eye reading that describe exactly how readings are constructed and how the sitter's perception is affected. Brad Henderson's "The Dance" may be one of the most informative titles on this.
posted by splice at 11:45 AM on November 16, 2009


I agree with modernnomand except for this part:

In any event, as a co-performer (as distinct from the recorder) on the recording, she would be entitled to an equal share of any profits it generated.

I'm not aware of any profit-sharing rule, law, or right. And if it's a work-for-hire then you could possibly own it completely. Was the recording part of the agreed upon transaction before you exchanged money?
posted by blue_beetle at 11:45 AM on November 16, 2009


Blue_beetle -- I think it would depend on whether transcribing a recording onto a blog constitutes "communication to the public" under s.19(1)...
posted by modernnomad at 11:48 AM on November 16, 2009


I don't think I signed anything to this effect, but I knew when I paid for the reading that I would get a recording at the end of it. I guess I paid for the recording then.
posted by arcticwoman at 11:49 AM on November 16, 2009


I am not a lawyer, but I believe that if you specifically commission a creative work (as it could be argued you did here) you own the copyright to the work. It's debatable whether a reading counts as a creative work or not, though.
posted by fearthehat at 11:49 AM on November 16, 2009


Are you going to post audio of the recording, or just a transcription? This may not matter from a legal standpoint, but from a practical standpoint it would seem very low risk to post an anonymized transcript.
posted by alms at 12:02 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


IANAL, but I think it can be argued that, by seeking out the psychic, paying (financial arrangements) her for both the reading (a performance) and the recording (technical arrangements), you are the maker of this work, as defined by section 2.11.

Effectively, you contracted her to be both a performer and sound engineer.
posted by clorox at 12:06 PM on November 16, 2009


I think if anything did come of this (she tried to sue or anything), which is of course very unlikely, you could argue that it is being used for educational purposes if you're doing a noncommercial analysis. I probably don't have to say this, but just don't use her name anywhere, and you should be good to go.

P.S. - Thanks for wanting to do this. Far too few people go back to refute false claims and con arts/artists.
posted by metalheart at 12:19 PM on November 16, 2009


I am not your lawyer, I am not a Canadian lawyer, and this is not legal advice: The lawyer (not yours) in me sees several variables here which preclude an easy yes or no answer: Did the psychic violate Canadian law by taping you without your consent in the first place? Did her giving you the tape constitute her permission for you to use any copyright rights she may own in this work for your own uses, including publication or making a derivative work? Did she retain a copy of the tape and/or could she otherwise even prove that your transcription came from her tape? Would you already be considered the author, or a co-author, of the tape under Canadian copyright law? However, the frank cynic in me thinks it highly unlikely that someone already working on the fringes of legality as a psychic would pursue any legal actions against you. If you decide to use this material in your blog you will probably want to avoid identifying the psychic or providing information which could identify her.
posted by applemeat at 12:28 PM on November 16, 2009


IANAL, but I wanted to say I agree with alms - I have no idea how an anonymized transcript of a 10 year old reading could realistically be traced or get you into trouble. How many sessions before and since have been exactly the same except for the personal info? How could the woman who did your reading (if she's even still in the business) be sure it was her session, or which client you were?

If you wanted to be super careful, I guess you could even change enough details to make it a "fictionalized account of a reading". Again, IANAL, but I don't think I'd have hesitated before doing this, and I hope you do do it.
posted by crabintheocean at 12:33 PM on November 16, 2009


I am not a lawyer, but I believe that if you specifically commission a creative work (as it could be argued you did here) you own the copyright to the work.

Not sure what the answer to the question is, but this is wrong. If someone pays you to take a photograph, for instance, you 100% still have the copyright to that photograph, unless you specifically sign away those rights, as in a work-for-hire arrangement. Audio recordings may be somewhat different, but this, as a blanket statement, is wrong.
posted by sully75 at 1:23 PM on November 16, 2009


If someone pays you to take a photograph, for instance, you 100% still have the copyright to that photograph, unless you specifically sign away those rights, as in a work-for-hire arrangement.

Under U.S. copyright law, a court may determine that your photograph was a "work made for hire" even if you did not sign any rights away. This is because courts look at a long list of factors to decide whether an artist is an "employee" or an "independent contractor," and the papers you sign are not always determinative.
posted by prefpara at 2:37 PM on November 16, 2009


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