Occasionally, we get questions from board members and managers about members that want to not only attend meetings, but also want to record the meeting, by either audio or video means. When your association has not contemplated this request, too often the meeting can turn out like this one.
Most of the time boards do not want to permit either the audio or video recording of their meetings. Oftentimes the board members feel audio or video recording would be disruptive and impede free discussion. One of the purposes of board meetings is to encourage the free exchange of ideas, without fear of retribution. However, recorded meetings tend to chill the exchange of ideas. It also seems that the reason members want to record meetings is to have “proof” of what was said or occurred at a meeting.
Unfortunately, recordings are too often used to focus on minutiae, or to take statements out of context. Rather than having to defend everything said or done during a multi-hour meeting, the board’s actions should be memorialized in the minutes of the meeting, and left at that. The board may want to carve out an exception for an official record-keeper (e.g., the association’s secretary) to audio or video record the proceedings for record-keeping purposes. If the Board decides to regularly tape record the meetings for record-keeping purposes, it should also implement a record retention policy by which the tapes are destroyed after the information has been committed to writing in the form of meeting minutes. In such a case, the Board may need to permit member access to the tapes during the time between the meeting and the tapes’ destruction.
We all know by now that Colorado’s new addition to the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act (“CCIOA“), SB 100, requires associations to adopt seven new responsible governance policies no later than January 1, 2006. One of those policies is required to address the conduct of meetings. It would be appropriate to address members’ rights to make audio or video recordings of meetings in this policy. However, absent such a policy, the board is leaving itself open to a member’s request to allow audio and video taping, and the awkward circumstances that might result.