Selling transcript copies from a private meeting
(Originally written, 1989; Amended, 2013)
Statement of facts
A freelance reporter is hired by a law firm to make a record of a meeting at which attendance is by invitation only. Is the reporter at liberty to sell copies of the transcript to members of the audience?
In the case under discussion, a nonpublic meeting, the hiring of a reporter to make a record and the resultant work product of the reporter, i.e., the transcript, as well as its distribution, come under the sole control of the hiring party. The reporter must look to that hiring party for permission to sell copies of the transcript.
To avoid possible problems, the reporter should inquire of the hiring party before the meeting starts whether the transcript can be made available to members of the audience.
It is the Committee's opinion that, without the permission of the hiring party, copies of the transcript cannot be sold or given to members of the audience who are there by invitation. If, indeed, a copy were sold or given under such circumstances without that express permission, the reporter would be in violation of Provisions 1, 4, and 9 of the Code, which state as follows:
No. 1. Be fair and impartial toward each participant in all aspects of reported proceedings.
No. 4. Preserve the confiden-tiality and ensure the security of infor-mation, oral or written, entrusted to the member by any of the parties in a proceeding.
No. 9. Maintain the integrity of the reporting profession.
For further information on this issue, refer to Public Advisory Opinion No.26 which discusses selling transcripts of public meetings.
THIS PUBLIC ADVISORY OPINION REFLECTS THE STATUS OF THE LAW IN MOST JURISDICTIONS. MEMBERS ARE REQUIRED TO CONFORM TO THE ACCEPTED PRACTICES SET FORTH IN THIS PUBLIC ADVISORY OPINION TO THE EXTENT THAT SUCH PRACTICES ARE CONSISTENT WITH THEIR OWN APPLICABLE STATE AND LOCAL LAWS, RULES AND REGULATIONS.