There are differences between countries in legal objections against collecting, storing and disseminating demographic and personal characteristics of speakers in a corpus. In all countries name and address data may freely be stored and published, as long as it is guaranteed that no other data about the person can be linked to name/address. Limitations in this respect must be carefully checked with legal advisers in the country or countries of interest.
Another legal issue that must be considered is the consent to record speech and subsequently to make the recordings available to other parties. In legal terms, making available recordings is probably equivalent to publishing them. There are likely to be differences between countries in legislation about recording speech. In some countries recording is legal as long as one of the parties involved in a dialogue gives explicit consent. The law may only state that recording for one's own use is legal; publication or any other way of dissemination may be illegal, or bound by much stricter regulation. To avoid problems in this area, it is recommended to have speakers sign a statement to the effect that they know that the recordings are made for later dissemination and publication. If that is not possible, e.g. when collecting large corpora of telephone speech, it is recommended that each speaker is explicitly advised to abort the call if he has any objections against recording and subsequent publishing of the speech to be produced. It is very important to consult with legal advisers about the correct formulation of these statements and advices.
Special care must be taken when recording and publishing corpora with pathological speech or with speech of very young children who are not yet able to give conscious consent for publishing. Especially with rare pathologies it may be very easy to trace the speech back to the patient, even if name and address data are not coupled to the data about the pathology. With pathological speech of mentally healthy adult patients a carefully formulated written and signed consent form may be sufficient. With speech of very young children carefully formulated consent forms signed by the parents are necessary.
Legal issues (and ethical ones as well) are especially relevant in the case of surreptitious recording of speech. In order to circumvent the observer's paradox (see Section 3.4.1 under ``Spontaneous speech'' ), researchers might want to resort to surreptitious recording of speech. This could, for instance, be done with a concealed microphone ``in the field '' or by tapping telephone conversations. Invading the privacy of someone's personal speech might be regarded as illegal by the authorities. And even if it would not be illegal, it might still be regarded as unethical by many people. As far as we know, no linguist has ever been tried for recording speech data surreptitiously . However, to minimise the risk of breaking the law in any way, and to conform to ethical norms as much as possible, the following guidelines can be taken into consideration:
A more elaborate discussion of legal and ethical aspects of surreptitious recording of speech can be found in [Larmouth (1986)] and [Murray & Murray (1986)].