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A legal question: who owns the rights to the audio left on your voicemail?


Staff member
This week I received 3 voice mails left on the TRIBE phone line by a rabid disgruntled member of the Ford Nation. I am wondering, from a legal perspective, who owns the rights to this voicemail audio - does TRIBE, since it was directed and given to us? Or does the person the left the message own it?

Also, and this is a secondary legal question. Can I put the audio file out there to be remixed, into music tracks for example.


TRIBE Member
theoretically the person who left the message would be the author of the message and thereby own the copyright (provided their ranting was original). I highly doubt that the courts would be quick to enforce that right on a voicemail though given how intrusive that would be to our day to day lives. Likely some legal hole would be found or made such that a person speaking to another, knowing he is being recorded, could not suppress the use of that recording through IP litigation.

It is even less likely that the 'author' would even bring an action since IP litigation is expensive, this would be a fairly academic legal debate (not straightforward, therefore expensive), and the damages obtained if successful would likely be nominal.
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TRIBE Member
In your voice mail message just say "Any recordings made in this voice mail are the property of Alex D and can be remixed for the purpose of (1) to make fun of on tribe.ca, or (2) to make bangin' tunes for Toronto's undergro"- BEEEEEEEEP.
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TRIBE Member
Well, David is banned from calling the radio station :p

Yeah, sure KMW can answer that or get the info. I also can't imagine the 'author' of the voicemail having rights here. In placing the voicemail, they knew they were being recorded, and left it for you on the tribe phone. However, I'm not a lawyer, so wth do I know :)

A remix would be awesome.


TRIBE Member
The best explanation I ever heard of the difference between common and civil law was:

Common law: If it isn't prohibited, it's allowed.

Civil law: If it isn't written down, it isn't allowed.

Of course there are exceptions, but generally speaking, if you aren't finding anything, I'd expect it's yours to share. After all, the NSA already has it ;)


TRIBE Member
Yo, Paul, this is Al. You can kiss my ass.
I ain't interested in you anyhow. I'm just interested in the B-Boys.
So fuck you, my man.


TRIBE Member
My ethical thoughts are that it belongs to the person who left the message. And as it was intended as a private message, you should not to make it public without the consent of the "author".
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