Will Taylor Swift Forgive Kanye or Claim Defamation?

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on February 16, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Two nights ago, Taylor Swift won a Grammy for 2015's Album of the Year for "1989." She used the moment in the spotlight to take a shot at Kanye West, who did not attend the event. The two have clashed, most famously, when Swift first received a VMA years ago, and most recently last Friday when Kanye dissed her lyrically.

Kanye last week released a song from his new album claiming he made Swift famous and might still sleep with her. He said in a tweet that she approved the line, which she immediately denied. It seemed likely that the famously litigious Swift would retaliate with a lawsuit. Could she claim defamation?

What Is Defamation?

There are two types of defamation, written and oral, or libel and slander. In either case, the statement made must be false, harmful, and published to third parties resulting in injury to the reputation of the subject, the plaintiff in a defamation case. For the famous plaintiff, however, there must be more, intent to harm, which arguably Kanye could be said to have here.

Kanye's other lyrical claims have led to musing about possible lawsuits, too. In January he released a song that said his former business partner, Nike, uses slave labor and is losing money while Nike announced profits.

Kanye used the hashtag #FACTS to support his claims, which seem to be fictional and a prime basis for a lawsuit. Still, not everyone follows Kanye's logic about all press being good press, so Nike has yet to file.

Swift doesn't seem financially injured by Kanye's claims and now it seems less likely than it did last week that she will sue Kanye for defamation, what with having won another Grammy. Still, she did take the time last night to address Kanye's lyrical claims that he made her famous, according to Fox News.

A Pointed Speech

Disguising her shot at Kanye as an inspirational statement for ladies, Swift said, "I want to say to all the young women out there: There are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame. But if you just focus on the work and you don't let those people sidetrack you, someday when you get where you're going, you'll look around and you will know that it was you and the people who love you who put you there. And that will be the greatest feeling in the world. Thank you for this moment."

Swift is the first woman to win the Album of the Year twice. The overwhelmingly positive coverage of her acceptance last night make it unlikely that Swift will file suit against Kanye West for last week's claims he made her famous.

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