I plan to go to an academic conference, and write down all questions from the audience I heard during the presentations. Then, I plan to make the list questions publicly available on Internet (without mentioning the name of the person who asked the question).

Do I need to have attendees' agreement?

The conference has no non-disclosure agreement, or similar confidentiality clause.

  • Jurisdiction matters; which state? An expectation of privacy also plays a role. Do you know if the presentations are broadcast anywhere such as a webinar? – Dave D Nov 22 '15 at 20:45
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    Not relevant for law, but given that you also posted this on Academia.SE: if you intend to use this information in publishable academic research, you'll need the approval of an IRB, which will almost certainly demand consent from all the participants. I think you can also expect that some significant number of the participants will get angry if they find out - not desirable if your goal is to pursue an academic career. – Nate Eldredge Nov 22 '15 at 21:18
  • @DaveD I'm mostly interested in the states of California and Massachusetts, though conferences tend to keep changing location. – Franck Dernoncourt Nov 22 '15 at 21:57

I can't think of any law which prevents you from repeating a presumably impromptu question that someone says publicly. It occurs to me that a person at an academic conference might argue that their strung together words are really cutting edge and therefore not to be repeated by anyone but themself, but then they shouldn't have spoken them in public. On the one hand, the very point of academic conferences is to share ideas. On the other, maybe people sharing ideas assume they are only sharing with fellow attendees, not with the entire internet!

I think the problem is not a legal one, but a professional and interpersonal one. In other words, etiquette. Meaning that someone who does this won't end up in court, but might end up being mistrusted and disinvited from future events. Inasmuch as that's the case, proper etiquette will be dictated by those who travel in the social circle.

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