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Recording My Neighbours' Sounds From My Own Flat

Posted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 8:18 pm
by bluelotus
I am making video course for which I record myself speaking in front of my PC. Unfortunately, my neighbours who have little kids are very noisy and I hear them pretty much all the time shouting around. I try to edit stuff out but it is difficult to get it all. So my question is, if I have their voices on my recordings in the background and then sell these recordings, and they would sue me (which is unlikely but I would just like to know) where do I stand legally?

Posted: Thu Jun 30, 2016 7:08 am
by AndyJ
Hi bluelotus,

You don't need to worry.

Someone else's speech is not subject to copyright unless it is fixed (ie recorded) in some permanent way, meaning that, ironically you will have caused copyright to exist by recording their voices in the background. But you would own the copyright in the recording.
There is a very old court case which establishes this fact, known as Walter v Lane.

However none of that really matters because just as if, say, they had the radio on loud and you recorded some copyright music, that would be classed as incidental inclusion and so it would not amount to infringement.

I think the only issue which might arise is one that has nothing to do with copyright, and that would be invasion of privacy in breach of Article 8 of the Human Rights Act. However, once again that would not apply if you were not intending to record them specifically, and even if you were, I doubt that they would have a case because as long as you had taken no special steps to make their voices audible, and they themselves are effectively responsible for this fact because of their loudness.

Posted: Sun Jul 03, 2016 6:04 pm
by bluelotus
Thanks for that very clear reply! I am definitely not intending to record them on purpose, it is the opposite - I wished I could completely eliminate them from the recording but it is almost impossible!

But what you say makes sense and gives me peace of mind!