A conversation which is loud enough to be heard through the wall or through the heating system without the use of any device is not protected by KRS 526.020. A person who desires privacy of communication has the responsibility to take the steps necessary to insure that his conversation cannot be overheard by the ordinary ear.Kerr comments:
This is arguably quite relevant: the McConnell campaign discussion apparently was loud enough to be overheard from outside the door; from what we can tell, it was recorded from a phone or video camera without audio amplification. So that language makes me think that the recording was probably not a crime. At the same time, the commentary is ambiguous. It could be read as merely making the obvious point that eavesdropping requires a device. That is, listening with your ears is different from recording with a microphone.Obviously, you don't want to make a crime out of happening to hear a conversation on the other side of a door or wall. Perhaps there's something a little more wrong about stopping to listen, once you realize you can hear people talking. If you can hear through the wall when your neighbors talk, should you have an obligation not to pay attention or is it their responsibility to make sure you can't hear? Yet to record them seems to cross a moral line, I would think.
But what would you say about writing down quotes? Many times, I've sat in cafés and heard people talking, and I've jotted down quotes I've found interesting. And here's a specific example: Once we sat in a café at a table where we could not help overhearing a conversation. We recognized one participant as a famous professor and he was saying some extraordinarily foolish things. There's a certain word, that — if you knew how to pronounced it the way this professor did — you could say and crack me up in one second. I could have written down a lot of quotes that day and blogged them. Decency constrained me. But, surely, that could not be made into a crime in the United States.
ADDED: I'm musing about what we might consider morally wrong because it relates to what the statute might mean and also what the government may — if it chooses — criminalize.
AND: It seems to me that putting your ear against the wall/door is wrong in a way that pausing to listen when you hear talking through a wall/door is not. Here's a passage from David Rakoff's book "Half Empty":
Once during the day... I could hear Raul Rivas having sex in the office downstairs. I skittered around the apartment like a cockroach on a frying pan, trying not to make noise while desperately looking for a knothole in the crappy floorboards. Eventually I just lay down flat against the tile of the kitchen floor, listening. Lying flat against the tile of the kitchen floor listening to someone else have sex is essentially my early twenties in a nutshell.Morally wrong, but how morally wrong?