On Sunday, Kim Kardashian released a Snapchat video of a phone call between Kanye West and Taylor Swift, in which Swift appears to approve the lyrics for West's song "Famous." In the song, West raps, "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/Why? I made that bitch famous."
West has long insisted that he asked Swift for her approval before releasing the song. In February, a representative for Swift released a statement claiming that "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."
In the video, which depicts West talking on speakerphone, a voice that sounds an awful lot like Swift's formerly Southern, sometimes British, twang thanks West for the advance warning after he tells her about the "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex" line. "The heads up is so nice… Even asking or seeing if I'd be OK with it," she says. "I just really appreciate it. I never would have expected you to, like, tell me about one of the lines in your song."
In response to the video of the phone call, Swift posted an Instagram message saying, "Where is the video of Kanye calling me 'that bitch' in his song? It doesn't exist because it never happened." She captioned the message, "That moment when Kanye West secretly records your phone call, then Kim posts it on the Internet," because, ugh, don't you hate it when that happens to you?
Swift's squad of waifs immediately clamored to her defense on social media, but the songstress's PR folks seem to have forgotten one of the first rules of show business: The Kardashians are all about that long game. You don't go from being Paris Hilton's closet organizer to the cover of Forbes without a fair degree of business acumen, and Kim demonstrated a shrewd sense of timing by first teasing out the existence of the video in an interview with GQ weeks ago, and then waiting until the storyline of her reality show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, caught up to real-live human time to release the incriminating Snapchat video.
But is it possible that the Kardashian-West's recording and release of the taped conversation was illegal?
Aaron Simpson, a partner at the law firm Hunton & Williams, who specializes in issues of complex privacy and cyber-security matters, says it's a possibility. "Both Kanye West and Kim Kardashian face some potential legal exposure here, including criminal sanction," he tells Broadly over email. "It's unlawful in a number of states to secretly record a phone conversation between multiple parties." If the phone call were recorded in a California, a state whose prominent wire-tapping laws require "two party consent," meaning all parties must be made aware that the call is being taped, it would have been illegally obtained.
Simpson further explains, "If California law is applicable, Kanye West's failure to obtain Taylor Swift's consent is in violation of the law, and both civil and criminal liability are a possibility. Since Kim Kardashian released the contents of the conversation publicly without Taylor Swift's consent, she too faces potential civil and criminal liability under California law."
Legal action can be brought in California if the damages exceed $5,000. Swift's net worth is estimated to be $250 million. No numerical value has been assigned to her feelings, but California attorney Paul Wallin explained to Fox News that, "[For] someone who has a lot to lose from negative publicity, [damages] could be very very high."
As Kardashian's net worth is said to be a paltry $50 million, here's hoping that somebody starts a Go Fund Me campaign.