In my state (GA), there is a one party consent to recording a conversation. Does a prohibition on recording in the syllabus trump this? Would the school have any case against me if I did record?

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    The school can certainly make rules against things that are legal. So you might suffer academic punishments - failing grade, suspension, expulsion, black mark on record, etc. But that part's not relevant to Law.SE. Oct 10, 2017 at 2:25
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    Saying that you do not have permission to record may be intended to address copyright law rather than eavesdropping statutes.
    – phoog
    Oct 10, 2017 at 2:28

1 Answer 1


I wouldn't say that it "trumps state law". Indeed, the State of Georgia, either expressly by statute or through the common law, establishes that teachers and school administrators have the authority to create rules and regulations governing the conduct of students that are not themselves unconstitutional as applied to students, although, in general these consequences can't resort to criminal punishments.

Instead, typical punishments include detention, suspension (in school or out of school), expulsion, and adjustment of grades for an assignment or a course. Marks in one's disciplinary record and public shaming, forfeiture of eligibility to participate in school sponsored extra-curricular activities or honors (including marching at graduation), refusing to release transcripts, and historically (but much less so in recent years) corporal punishments such as spanking, have been options for schools to enforce their punishments.

A prohibition on recording in a syllabus certainly wouldn't result in criminal punishments, and probably wouldn't even give rise to civil liability. Depending upon the purpose for which the recording was being used, it is even conceivable that the school's right to punish someone for violating a school rule could be estopped by First Amendment and whistle blower protection law considerations (e.g. if it was used to document harassment and discriminatory conduct for use in sharing with the school board or law enforcement or publishing on radio or TV or an Internet news source).

But, the mere fact that conduct is legal outside a school setting does not mean that a school cannot prohibit and punish that conduct in its own rules.

The closer case, upon which there is more division of legal authority, is under what circumstances a school can legitimately punish conduct away from school, for example, uploading rap lyrics about a teacher to YouTube from home without using any school resources to do so.

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    Recording of lessons may be limited by copyright law if the delivery of that lesson is a derivative work of copyright material (e.g. The teacher's lesson plan)
    – Dale M
    Oct 10, 2017 at 4:59
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    @DaleM Pretty implausible, particularly because students are expected to take notes in class so there is an implied license to create some sort of derivative work. I can't think of a single case where a teacher has sued a student for a copyright in lessons offered. Also, in a public school, it might be work for hire and belong to the district rather than the teacher.
    – ohwilleke
    Oct 10, 2017 at 18:05
  • Not so unlikely if you consider university level material with pre-printed course notes
    – Dale M
    Oct 10, 2017 at 18:49
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    University lectures often include graphics that may be used by the professor in their teaching by virtue of being used for teaching, but republication of the lecture would violate the copyright of said graphic as the nature of the work isn't the same anymore.
    – Trish
    Oct 20, 2021 at 0:25

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