Kanye West Could Face A Year In Prison For Recording Taylor Swift Phone Call
It looks like the party is over.
Now that everyone has had their fun sharing Taylor Swift memes on social media the past few days, things have taken a more serious turn.
Kanye West could face up to one year in prison for recording his “Famous” phone call with Taylor Swift.
West probably didn’t need consent for mentioning Swift (or calling her a “bitch”) in his song, as best illustrated by a 2013 court ruling favoring Pitbull against Lindsay Lohan. The First Amendment protects such expression. Nevertheless, West spoke to Swift before “Famous” came out to run at least some of his lyrics by her. In doing so, he may have made a move that possibly did require consent: He recorded the conversation…This situation raises several potential legal issues. And unfortunately, many of them are dependent on facts that aren’t known for sure (or that are disputed). For instance, where was West during this phone call? Where was Swift? The answers could have implications for the legality of West’s actions.
The issue of location probably would be the first one addressed in any legal case over a surreptitiously recorded phone conversation. Although federal law permits such recording whenever at least one party consents, 11 states require “two-party consent,” meaning both sides of a phone conversation must OK the recording. That includes California, where penalties for violations include up to a year in prison.
If Swift and West both participated in the call in California, that’s the worst case scenario for West. But even if only West was in California and Swift was elsewhere, that’s still bad for him because the state, unlike some others where “two-party consent” is required, doesn’t provide him any breaks if Swift herself wasn’t in the state during the time of the phone call, according to legal experts consulted by The Hollywood Reporter.
But the analysis doesn’t end there.
First of all, “two-party consent” has taken some judicial heat in recent years. For example, in Illinois (West’s home state), the state’s Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that a provision against recording conversations was unconstitutional as an impingement of the First Amendment. California’s own law also could undergo such an examination in the future.
Kanye recently deleted his “Can somebody sue me already” tweet, but it would appear that the Chicago rapper could have his wish granted very soon.