Discover more from Mike McBride on M365
The Strange Journey of Teams Meeting Transcripts
The great mystery has taken a few turns over the years. Recently, it took another one.
Welcome back to MM on M365. I know we’re still in the “getting to know each other” phase so this deep dive is still free to everyone. Eventually, some of these will only be available to paying subscribers.
Once upon a time, Microsoft made the decision to move the recordings of Teams meetings into OneDrive and SharePoint. (Private meetings into the ONeDrive of the person who recorded it, Chanel meetings into the SharePoint site for that Team.) The transcripts, however, remained behind in the Stream app.
This created a problem for the legal folks when it came to eDiscovery. You had all these MP4 files from Teams meetings and no way to search or collect the transcripts with the eDiscovery tools.
As we all know about M365 though, this would change eventually with the text of the transcripts being added to the SharePoint index for the MP4 file. Now you could use the eDiscovery tools to search the content of the transcript in order to collect the recording, however, the recording you then collected was still only the MP4 file with no text content.
If you ever want to have a frustrating conversation with lawyers, try explaining to them how a keyword search could return a document during collection that does not have any text to search against during Review. Really, it’s a great time, and at the same time, I don’t blame the lawyers I had to have that conversation with. At a surface level, it makes no logical sense. But Microsoft had made the choice to put the text of the transcript into the SharePoint metadata for the MP4 file, while still storing the actual transcript in a location we couldn’t collect from.
It was a step in the right direction though, at least letting us run a keyword search against the meeting transcript.
Earlier in 2023, Microsoft made another change. They’ve again made a step in the right direction, but I’m not sure they are all the way there yet.
In eDiscovery Premium, when my keyword search hits on that MP4 file the way it has previously, the collection actually pulls in a zip file and an HTML file now. Inside the zip file are the MP4 video recording and a few other files, while the HTML file appears as a list of properties, collected from within the Substrate of the mailbox of the user who recorded the meeting, Adele.
Here are the two original files in the Review Set:
During the Collection and Processing phases, more files are extracted. In my test, there were six files in total.
One of those .json files is actually the transcript of the meeting.
I can review the contents in the Review Set by looking at the Transcript tab for that item.
This can seem a little confusing because when I look at Adele’s OneDrive, this zip file that was collected doesn’t exist. I only see the MP4 file just as I always have. I surmise that what happens during the search and collection phase in Premium is that the searchable metadata information is being pulled in with the MP4 into that zip file. (Looking at the contents of those other files indicates that it is pulling in properties, for example, and we know that there has been a JSON file stored deep in the user mailbox that has the text of the transcript, though it had not been collectible from the mailbox using the M365 eDiscovery tools.)
The problem I have is that the “transcript” that is available now is not a “transcript” that reviewers are going to be familiar with. Yes, the text from the transcript is available, but it’s available in JSON format, which isn’t the most reader-friendly. In the Review Set, as shown in the image above it’s not terrible, but the exported document that I would be loading into a review platform for attorneys to see is even less readable.
My frustration stems from the fact that a user in the meeting can click the transcript button inside the meeting chat and get a cleaner version, yet that version remains unavailable to the eDiscovery tools, as do all of the tools available to a user who might be playing this video in Stream, where they can edit and correct the transcript, outside the reach of an eDiscovery search.
Which one would you rather see in your legal review tool?
It also is treated as a separate file from the MP4 recording. There’s no family connection, so during the review steps will need to be made to make sure the two files stay together. The information from the ZIP could be used for this purpose if that is what the legal team requires. The Compound Path field for both files shows them being extracted from the ZIP.
This is not the same if my collection has been done through Adele’s mailbox for Teams communication. In that scenario, the recording is collected as a cloud attachment and the entire zip file is “attached” to the Teams messages from the meeting. That would be a family where all of the files from the zip are in a family of documents.
Still, having the text available is better, in my opinion, than not having any text. (I’m not a lawyer, so I won’t speak to whether this transcript file meets whatever production requirements they may have.)
One last point. The JSON file appears during the collection and processing stages with Purview eDiscovery Premium. Using eDiscovery Standard, this keyword collection takes us back to where we were prior to these changes in 2023. Yes, the keyword search returns the recording. The export, however, only gives us the MP4 file that would not have any of that text. This is yet another recent example of a new feature that Standard won’t have. Development for Standard eDiscovery has pretty much stopped. While there have been a number of changes in the interface, reporting, and collections for Premium over the last few months, Standard is very much the same as it has been. When considering the price difference between an E3 license vs. an E5 license, this is something you’re going to want to review with your legal team.
This is something we’ll see as we continue working with these deep dives. There’s a large and growing gap between the features in Premium versus Standard.
Until next time, if this was educational for you, please share it with others and encourage them to subscribe as well so they don’t miss out!