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My housemate claims to have made a secret video and audio recording of me and shown it to someone else. I'm not really concerned about the contents of the supposed video going public, but this housemate is becoming problematic (obviously), and this might provide some leverage to have him evicted or get a restraining order or something.

I looked at the statute in Oregon and it says you require consent of all parties for an in-person interaction. However it lists some exemptions, and one of them is this:

The prohibitions in subsection (1)(a), (b) or (c) of this section do not apply to subscribers or members of their family who perform the acts prohibited in subsection (1) of this section in their homes.

I'm not sure if this means people can record their family members inside their home or if a person can record in their home and their family members' homes. My housemate and I are not family members. I'm not sure exactly where the videos were taken, could be a common area or something like a bedroom.

Here's a link to the relevant statute: chapter 165 section 540

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  • While the creation of the recording appears to be legal, going by the current answer, that doesn't mean what is done or has already been done with the recording is going to be legal. If they are using this to extort you, abusively manipulate you, to make money without your permission to use your likeness, etc. then they may be infringing any number of local and/or federal laws. Jul 3, 2020 at 15:45
  • @zibadawatimmy I'm not convinced such recordings even exist, I suspect it's just blustering in an attempt to scare me. He didn't at all describe the contents, just that he showed it to someone and they "laughed" and he wondered aloud how many views it'd get on YouTube. There were no threats or anything though, so probably all legal.
    – Kat
    Jul 3, 2020 at 16:05
  • Actual existence of the recording need not be relevant. If someone tells you that they have videos of you in the bathroom or some other "compromising situation" and tell you to do such-and-such or they'll put it up on the internet, then they're committing a crime even if they have no such recording (or couldn't summon the will to follow through). Actual existence would help for establishing evidence of the (potential) crimes, but it's not required; coincidentally you may be able to legally record what this roomate is saying about these recordings in your own home to get said evidence. Jul 3, 2020 at 16:08
  • And as Nate points out in a comment on the answer, there may be other laws controlling the legality of the alleged recording that may override the one you cite. Non-consensual bathroom recordings, since I brought them up, are almost always illegal, regardless, based on privacy laws. Jul 3, 2020 at 16:11

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It is legal, see Oregon v. Rainey. Appellant threatened a neighbor outside of the neighbor's house, and the recording was done inside the house. The court rules that the "inside their homes" exception applied, because the exception pertains to where the recording is done and not where the conversation takes place. The person recording and the person recorded do not have to be in the same family: it is simply a matter of where the recording takes place. However, a visitor to your home could not make a legal secret recording, because it is not their home.

A search of Oregon appellate rulings does not clarify how "home" is to be interpreted under this law. This suggests a possible line for pursuing the matter (but it would require courts to decide what "home" means). The use of "home" is completely clear in the case of a single-family house, but not clear in the case of a shared rental structure. To the extent that two people simply live under one roof with separate rooms and relatively separate lives (e.g. upstairs vs. downstairs), and if the recording was done in your part of the house, one can make a credible case that your room is not in their home. The issue has not come up in court in such a way that the courts have addressed that nuance on the word "home".

There are specific laws prohibiting recordings (not just communications) either involving sex acts, bathroom functions, and other things that a reasonable person would object to their disclosure. As stipulated by the OP, the subject matter of the recording is not something that a reasonable person would object to disclosing.

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    Well, I would only agree (tentatively) that the recording is not prohibited by section 540. It does not follow that it's legal. It could be prohibited on some other grounds, e.g. invasion of privacy. And in that setting, a resident of the house may well have an expectation of privacy that a visitor would not. Jul 3, 2020 at 15:59
  • The OP's statement "I'm not really concerned about the contents of the supposed video going public" suggests strongly that the content of the recording is outside of invasion or privacy laws. But we'd need more info on the nature of the recordings.
    – user6726
    Jul 3, 2020 at 16:49
  • @user6726 I mean I'm not concerned in the sense that I know it doesn't demonstrate me doing something criminal, going on a racist tirade, or anything like that (because I've never done those things). I obviously don't want a video taken of me in my home without my consent, regardless of whether the contents are especially damaging or not. I don't have specific info on what the recordings are of, but I'd guess it's a conversation or similar.
    – Kat
    Jul 3, 2020 at 18:40
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    @NateEldredge I was interested in this possibility, secretly recording people in their homes just because you happen to live there too doesn't seem right to me, but I can't find a statute anywhere addressing it. I'll un-accept this answer for now though in case someone else knows something we don't.
    – Kat
    Jul 3, 2020 at 18:42

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