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General Considerations for Recording and Saving Transcripts of Zoom Meetings

How do Zoom recordings work?

Zoom’s push-button recording feature makes it easy to record any meeting hosted on the platform. 

The information below describes Zoom’s recording functionality as of 3/24/21, but note that Zoom continues to introduce new product features.

Should I record or save a transcript of my Zoom meeting?

Reasons to record a Zoom meeting include:

  • You intend to post a digital recording of the meeting online for a public or select audience to watch after the fact, or you expect that you will need to repurpose the meeting (for example, by making a live training session to one audience available to other audiences in a recorded format).
  • You would have recorded the meeting anyway in the ordinary course, if you were conducting it in person or by telephone.
  • You expect that certain critical invitees will not be able to attend the meeting, and it would be insufficient simply to provide them with a slide deck, minutes, notes, or briefing of the meeting after the fact.
  • You find during the meeting that one or more attendees is having Zoom connectivity problems, and it would be insufficient simply to provide them with a slide deck, minutes, notes, or briefing of the meeting after the fact.
  • You want to allow students to review class materials. A recording can help students review content they did not understand, missed, or forgot. This can be a good tool for UDL (Universal Design for Learning). However, remember that over Zoom, individual students are often visible and easily identifiable. Please keep privacy and FERPA requirements in mind when deciding whether to record a given class session. 

If none of these considerations applies to your meeting, then we advise as a general matter that you do not Zoom-record your meeting.

Similar considerations apply to the generation of saved transcripts: unless you anticipate some need to access personally or communicate to third parties what was discussed in the meeting and it would be insufficient to refer to or provide a slide deck, minutes, notes, or a briefing of meeting, you should not save a transcript of the meeting. 

This is especially true if you change your personal settings to let participants save transcripts created with Zoom’s live captioning feature, because each individual user will be able to generate and save transcripts entirely outside your control as host.  We suggest you only allow non-host participants to save live transcripts if you have a compelling reason. Remember, if you are recording to the cloud, and sharing the recordings, participants will have access to that cloud transcript.

Who can record?

The default setting for Haverford users allows only the Zoom meeting host to Zoom-record a meeting session, although the meeting host may authorize other meeting participants to record the meeting.  We generally advise that meeting hosts not allow other participants to record a Zoom meeting.

Does Zoom notify meeting participants about recordings? 

When a meeting host activates a Zoom recording, Zoom announces that “this meeting is being recorded.”  If the host stops the recording, Zoom will announce that “the recording has stopped.”  Any meeting participant who joins a meeting in progress will hear an announcement from Zoom that the meeting is being recorded.  At all times when a meeting is being recorded, a button appears at the top left corner of the Zoom window: blinking <recording>.

Where do the recordings go, and who can see them? 

The host can choose to record a meeting when creating a meeting or the host can start, pause, and stop the recording during the meeting. In either case, the host can opt to “record on this computer” or “record to the cloud.” Note that pausing and unpausing a recording will preserve a single video file, while stopping and starting again will generate multiple separate recordings. 

Sessions recorded on your computer

If the host selects the option, record on this computer, Zoom will save the recorded files to the default Zoom download folder.

Sessions recorded to the cloud (and copied to Panopto too)

If the host selects, record to the cloud, by default Zoom prepares an audio/video recording (showing only speakers) and an accompanying Artificial Intelligence (AI)-generated audio transcript of the meeting.  These files are available at a unique URL which Zoom emails to the meeting host. As a host, you can change your cloud recording settings to meet your own needs and preferences.

All cloud recordings are also copied to our Panopto streaming platform. If you are recording for an academic class, we recommend using the Zoom Moodle link to automatically make recordings available to your students. If you are not using the Zoom Moodle link, the recording will be copied to your “My Meetings” folder located inside your Panopto “My folder”. You can store, share, and edit your Zoom recordings on Panopto more readily than you can on Zoom cloud. Either way, your Panopto recording will have the same settings and transcript as your cloud recording, although the display configuration may be slightly different.

How do Zoom’s transcript features work?

How do I save a transcript/ Who can save a transcript?

Zoom provides two ways to generate and save a transcript: (1) through its cloud recording function which, unless turned off in Zoom’s settings, generates a transcript automatically after the meeting is over; and (2) through the save transcripts option available when using Live Captions and Transcription in Zoom.

When the host records a Zoom meeting to the cloud, after the meeting ends Zoom emails two links to the recording: a restricted version for only the host and another password protected link to share the video with others. As a host, you can trim the beginning and end of the video to limit what people can view on the shared version. After some processing time (usually short, but it can take up to a day), Zoom generates a transcript to the recording. That transcript appears next to the video. The host can edit the transcript via the host only link.

Zoom also includes a live captioning feature that, when switched on, allows meeting attendees to see speech-to-text transcriptions of spoken audio in real time, during the meeting.  By default, only the host can save these live transcripts. If you want to give your participants the ability to save the live transcript, check the option to save captions in your haverford.zoom.us account settings. You need to change this setting before starting the meeting for the setting to take effect.

What is saved in a Zoom meeting transcript?

Zoom meetings can be captioned live during a meeting either manually by a person or by artificial intelligence. Human generated captioning requires a person to type what is spoken in real-time. The meeting host may designate another meeting participant to type the captions during a meeting or engage a 3rd party caption service to do this work. Zoom recently introduced a feature that will produce captions during the course of a meeting, using an AI (artificial intelligence) speech-to-text technology that analyzes audio files and generates text transcripts of what was spoken. 

The Zoom meeting transcript generated alongside the recording saved in the Zoom cloud includes text along with the name of the person speaking.  A saved file from Zoom’s live captioning includes transcript text and time stamps, but no speaker names.  Although live captioning identifies which meeting attendee said what, the saved transcript of the same meeting does not identify individual speakers.  A transcript may nevertheless identify speakers in the rendered text (when speakers introduce themselves) and/or through context (when one speaker addresses a question to a second speaker by name, and the second speaker answers; or when one speaker attributes what was earlier said to another person).

Does Zoom notify meeting participants about transcripts? 

Unlike with recordings, Zoom does not announce to participants that the meeting host will be generating a transcript of what meeting participants are communicating.  If a host generates a transcript simply by recording to the cloud, the attendees will know the meeting is recorded but not necessarily that a transcript will be made available, too.  If a host enables the save transcripts setting prior to starting the meeting and enables Live Transcripts during the meeting,  all meeting attendees will be able to see that they can save transcripts of the meeting.

Where do the transcripts go, and who can see them? 

Our default recordings settings ask Zoom to create an AI generated  transcript for all cloud recordings. You can edit this transcript to correct it, add to it, or even remove it. However, by default the transcript of your meeting will be available next to the shared Zoom cloud version of your video.

Zoom’s AI generated transcript is also copied to the Panopto version of your meeting. You can edit the Panopto version of the transcript too. Edits made to the Zoom cloud transcript will not be reflected on Panopto and visa versa.

As noted above, by default, only the host can save these live transcripts. However, if you enable this feature in your personal settings and turn on Zoom live captioning, each individual meeting attendee may choose to save a transcript, and the transcript will be saved to the attendee’s computer.

How do I secure my recording?

As noted above, you will have copies of cloud recordings on Zoom for up to 30 days, and on Panopto.  If you are using a Moodle Zoom link, share recordings via your course Panopto folder. Otherwise, you will need to share your recordings to let others gain access. That said, you should keep the factors below in mind any time you create a recording.

Although the shareable URL where a Zoom cloud recording is posted is not publicly listed or easy, necessarily, to guess, it remains the case that any person who gets hold of the URL and password may be able to watch the video.  We strongly recommend that you keep the password protection on your Zoom cloud recordings. It is an important element in protecting the privacy of meeting participants.

If students appear and are personally identifiable in your meeting recording, you must password-protect the video.  In fact, we strongly urge members of the Haverford community to maintain password protection to all Zoom recordings, if they must make them.  In addition, you should not make available for download or otherwise distribute a digital copy of the recording.  

If your Zoom meeting is a class session, we encourage you to use the Moodle Zoom link and share recordings via your course Panopto folder. We recommended sharing course recordings this way, as it will make recordings available to the group you want (your students) and recordings will exist throughout the semester—not just the 30 days they are available on Zoom cloud. Note that Zoom’s AI-generated transcript copies to Panopto as soon as Zoom creates it. You can edit that transcript on Panopto.

If you are not using the Moodle Zoom link, you will have a copy of your Zoom cloud recording in your personal Panopto folder. Unless you take action to share those recordings, others will not be able to see them—unless they gain access to your password protected account. 

It is good practice to delete Zoom cloud recordings when you no longer need them. Copies of the recordings on Panopto, however, will remain on the system until further notice; we are not currently deleting Panopto files and have no plans to do so in the near future. We recommend deleting Panopto recordings copied from Zoom, as well as other recordings you post, when you no longer need them.

As noted above, Zoom’s live captioning feature provides an additional security concern.  If you change the default setting to allow all meeting attendees to generate and save their own transcripts, you will not be able to secure any of the transcripts that the other attendees make and keep for themselves (and may easily distribute to others).

Specific Use Cases

Public events

For these purposes, a “Public Event” is an event directed to a live public audience.  If you intend to use Zoom to record a Public Event for any reason — for internal use, to post on a public-facing website, or anything in between, you should do the following:

First, you must ensure that invited speakers, panelists, or presenters sign an appropriate speaker release form.  

Second, as a best practice, you should take steps to allow audience members to access a livestream of the event without simultaneously projecting audio or video into the Zoom meeting.  Zoom Webinars follows this model and includes features that support moderated Q&A sessions with audience members.  You can also livestream a Zoom meeting through YouTube; audience members watch the event on YouTube and can comment and ask questions using YouTube’s live chat feature.  Moderators can then monitor the chat and select questions to put to speakers in the Zoom session.  In addition to reducing the risk of “Zoom-bombing” and other disruptions (intentional or unintentional) of your event, these methods eliminate the privacy considerations that arise from audience members appearing and speaking in the recorded session.

Nonpublic meetings

Different recording and privacy considerations apply to Zoom sessions not directed to a live public audience, depending on the nature and purpose of the session and the composition of the audience.  We break out nonpublic Zoom sessions into categories below, but we first refer you to the considerations expressed above (“Should I record or save a transcript of my Zoom meeting?”) to inform your decision whether or not to record.

Nonpublic speaking engagements

If you are hosting a lecture, panel discussion, seminar, or similar program in which speakers present to a select (i.e., nonpublic) audience of invitees, other than a class session (discussed below), we suggest that you follow the practices we recommend above for (Public Events,”) which would keep audience members from appearing and speaking in the Zoom meeting.

If, however, your program calls for direct interaction between speakers and members of the audience, you should do the following:

First, you must ensure that invited speakers, panelists, or presenters sign an appropriate speaker release form.  

Second, you should tell the audience:

  • That you are recording the event and, if you are recording to the cloud, saving a written transcript.
  • How you plan to use the recording and/or transcript, including who will be able to see or hear them.
  • That they have no obligation to appear or speak in the recording.
  • That they can turn off video and participate under an alias, if they choose.
  • That if they choose to participate in an identifiable way, they are authorizing the use of the recording (and, if applicable, the transcript) as you have described it.

Class sessions

Recordings for Class Use Only

If your objective in recording a class session is simply to make an archived recording available to people who need it for the class—enrolled students and instructors and their supporting personnel—it is sufficient simply to provide notice (1) that you are recording the class and (2) for what purpose.  If you want the same group of people to be able to review a written transcript of the session, you should record the class session to the cloud.  This approach to generating transcripts is much more secure than switching on the self-service transcript generation setting in Zoom live captioning.

When you make a class recording available using Zoom, you should use the cloud recording option and take steps to secure the recording as described above (“How Do I Secure My Recording?”). Recordings saved to the Zoom cloud include a transcript.

Recording for Broader Audiences

If you have Zoom-recorded a class session for student access, and you subsequently have reason to make a class session recording more broadly available—i.e., to persons outside of the class—then student privacy considerations require that any students who appear and are personally identifiable in the video must provide written consent to that disclosure.  This holds true as well in the case of saved written transcripts of the class, if students are named in the transcript or are identifiable from context.  The written consent should consist of a description of the disclosures you will make outside the class, including to whom, by what means, and for what purpose.  It is sufficient if students simply respond “yes” to an email that includes these details and asks if they will consent to the disclosure.

If prior to hosting a class session you anticipate that you will need to make a recording or transcript of some or all of the class available outside of the class, you should consult with the Registrar’s Office. 

If you are unable to obtain the needed consent for disclosure of your recorded video or transcript outside of your class, and you need help removing appearances by personally identifiable students from the recording or transcript, you should contact IITS.  

If you have questions about the federal privacy law governing student records, you should contact the Registrar’ office. 

Non-Class Meetings Intended for Students

This category includes Zoom meetings specifically directed at student audiences.  Examples are Career Services Q&A sessions, office hours hosted by faculty, and meetings or other information sessions with faculty and administrators that would have been conducted in person or by phone, prior to the COVID-19 crisis.

Generally speaking, we advise that you not record Zoom meetings for these purposes, unless one of the considerations that favor recording applies, as described above (“Should I Record My Zoom Meeting?”).

If you do record the meeting, you must do the following:

  • If the meeting is directed to a small number of students, you must:
    • Tell the students that you are recording the event and, if you are recording to the cloud, saving a written transcript, and ask whether they consent to the recording.  Unless all participating students consent to the recording, you should not record the Zoom session.
    • Obtain written consent of all student participants in the meeting before disclosing the recording or transcript to any person who is not a Haverford employee with a legitimate educational interest in accessing the recording.
  • If the meeting is directed to a large number of students—for example, a Career Services Q&A or a department-wide meeting—it may not be practical to elicit express written consent to subsequent use of the recording from all participating students.  In that case, you must tell the students:
    • That you are recording the event and/or, if applicable, saving a written transcript.
    • How you plan to use the recording or transcript, including who will be able to see or hear them.
    • That students have no obligation to appear or speak in the recording.
    • That students can turn off video and participate under an alias, if they choose.
    • That if students choose to participate in an identifiable way, they are consenting to the disclosure of the recording or transcript as you have described it.

Even if you take all of the above precautions, there may be cases in which it is nevertheless inappropriate or unlawful to disclose the video recording or transcript to third parties.  Accordingly, if any student appears and is personally identifiable in your Zoom recording, you should contact the Registrar’s Office before disclosing the recording to any person who is not a Haverford employee with a legitimate educational interest in accessing the recording.

When you make a meeting recording available using Zoom, you should use the cloud recording option and take steps to secure the recording as described above (“How Do I Secure My Recording?”). Recordings saved to the Zoom cloud include a transcript. We recommend sharing the Panopto copy, rather than the Zoom link, if the recording is needed longer than 30 days.

This statement is adapted, with permission, from Harvard University’s statement of the same name.

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