Justice

Why Taylor Swift's Accusation Against Kanye and Kim Is Actually a Big Deal

In case you are blissfully unaware of the Taylor Swift/Kanye West/Kim Kardashian feud, we're about to update you — and also let you know why the latest twist in the story is probably an illegal move for Team Kanye.

Here's what happened.

Kanye West recorded a song titled "Famous." In the song, he raps, "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that bitch famous." The "Taylor" referring to Taylor Swift. A wax and naked Taylor Swift dummy is featured in the video.

Swift and West have been feuding over the song, with West claiming that Swift knew about the lyric.

Swift's rep has said, "Kanye did not call for approval, but to ask Taylor to release his single 'Famous' on her Twitter account. She declined and cautioned him about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message. Taylor was never made aware of the actual lyric, ‘I made that [expletive] famous,'" according to The New York Times.

But on Sunday, Kim Kardashian West released a series of Snapchat videos that prove Swift knew about the lyric. The videos show West on a phone call with Swift (via speakerphone) telling her the line "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex" with Swift not only giving her approval, but thanking him for calling her, telling him, "I really appreciate it. The head's up is so nice."

"OK," you might be thinking, "The lives of celebrities are nothing like mine, I get it. So what?"

Well, about that recording Kardashian West posted...

Here's why the recording is questionable under law.

Please note, we are not lawyers. We're merely reporting on the law as documented by Digital Media Law Project (DMLP) which states this on phone recordings in California:

"California's wiretapping law is a 'two-party consent' law. California makes it a crime to record or eavesdrop on any confidential communication, including a private conversation or telephone call, without the consent of all parties to the conversation. See Cal. Penal Code § 632. The statute applies to 'confidential communications' -- i.e., conversations in which one of the parties has an objectively reasonable expectation that no one is listening in or overhearing the conversation.

[...] If you are operating in California, you should always get the consent of all parties before recording any conversation that common sense tells you might be 'private' or 'confidential.' In addition to subjecting you to criminal prosecution, violating the California wiretapping law can expose you to a civil lawsuit for damages by an injured party."

We don't know exactly where Kanye was calling from, if it was indeed California or elsewhere. TMZ claims a source told them it was recorded in Los Angeles.

However, as DMLP states:

"Regardless of whether state or federal law governs the situation, it is almost always illegal to record a phone call or private conversation to which you are not a party, do not have consent from at least one party, and could not naturally overhear."

Now, because of the nature of Snapchat, there are huge gaps in between the conversation that we're not hearing or moments we aren't seeing. We don't know if at some point Kanye West let Taylor Swift know that she was being recorded. We don't know who was taking the video, or if they said anything and/or made Swift aware that they were on the call and recording it. But whomever was recording this video appears to not be on the call or to let Swift know it's being recorded, which is a no-no under federal law.

However, if West did not record in the United States, it gets a little trickier. It's difficult to determine where exactly West was when the Swift/West phone call recording was made.

As to whether Swift will actually pursue legal action, TMZ also claims that she and her lawyers threatened West with "criminal prosecution" back in February:

"TMZ has a copy of a letter Taylor's lawyer sent to Kanye's attorney back in February. The lawyer made it clear, under California law, anyone who secretly records a telephone conversation with someone in the state commits a criminal offense ... and it's a felony."

In a statement she released on Twitter last night, she's definitely not happy about the entire situation:

Note that Swift used the "Notes" app on her phone to subvert the 140 Twitter character limit...and also note the "search" on the upper left corner of her note, which shows that she likely had this note saved for quite some time and thus had to use the search function in order to find it (as opposed to writing it on the fly, in which case "notes" would appear in the corner).