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Breaking Down Ohio Open Meeting Laws & Recording Rules

Have you ever worried that you might end up in a situation like this citizen journalist who got kicked out of township meeting? It’s good to know the law surrounding government public meetings and recording. Get the scoop on what you need to know about Ohio open meetings laws and recording laws. Then enter your documentation of a government open meeting in WatchdogWire’s video contest!

What Is Considered An “Open Meeting” In Ohio?

Only “public bodies” are required to comply with Ohio’s Open Meetings Act. A public body is a board, commission, committee, council or some type of decision-making body for some level of state or local government (include townships and school districts), including government agencies. All deliberation and official action related to official business must be conducted in an open meeting where the public may observe.

If you need help evaluating whether something is a “public body” (or a “private body” that qualifies as a “public body”) the Attorney General’s Sunshine Law Guide can walk you through how to do so. It also clarifies a list of entities not subject to Open Meetings law, or when it applies to particular entities.

What Are The Rules About Where I Can Film At An “Open Meeting?”

A public body cannot prohibit you from audio or video recording a meeting. They can, however, establish rules about where you can place your equipment. However, the Attorney General and Courts have indicated that they must be “reasonable rules” for the purpose of limiting interference with the ability for others to hear, see and participate in the meeting.

What Are The Rules About Who I Can Film In Ohio?

As a reporter, you do not have to gain consent for filming conversations in a public place where the speakers have no reasonable expectation of privacy. This is for places like a street or restaurant (or an open meeting of a public body!).

For interviews, Ohio is a “one-party consent” state. This means if you are participating in the recorded conversation or you have the permission of one of the persons in the video/audio recording, you can record legally record without having the other person’s permission (though it’s a good practice to ask!).

For more on Ohio Open Meeting Laws, see the Attorney General’s Ohio Sunshine Laws Guide.

For more on Ohio’s recording laws, see the Digital Media Law Project.

Stephanie Kreuz

Stephanie is the editor of Watchdog Wire - Ohio. She is a graduate of Hillsdale College. You can contact her at Ohio@WatchdogWire.com for story ideas and ways to get involved with citizen journalism in the state of Ohio.

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