Is this legal?
Is prank calling legal?
There is nothing illegal about sending a pre-recorded message to a phone number of your choice. However, as with any telecommunications service, it is illegal to use PrankDial’s services for the purpose of harassing or harming anyone. It is also a violation of our Terms of Service to use PrankDial for such purposes and anyone violating those terms is immediately barred from using our services and will be liable to us for any resulting damages. PrankDial uses the utmost caution in crafting pre-recorded messages that are funny yet benign. PrankDial also limits prank calls after 9PM by not giving free users access to the service after that time.
What about recording calls?
Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2511(2)(d), it is permissible to record any telephone conversation with the consent of one of the parties. PrankDial considers the person initiating the call as the consenting party (they must check off a box agreeing to record the call). By attaining this consent, PrankDial is able to record calls in all single party consent states. However, there are some states that require the consent of all of the parties on the call in order to record the telephone conversation. It is in violation of PrankDial’s Terms of Service to record calls in these states (CA, PA, FL, IL, MI, WA, MD, CT, NV, NH or MT).
PrankDial allows Caller ID spoofing. Is that legal?
The Federal Communications Commission regulations implementing the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009 prohibit the transmission of misleading or inaccurate Caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value. PrankDial, in particular, sends pre-recorded messages to recipients and has 100% creative control as to the content of these messages. We guarantee the content of the messages are not intended to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value. Since the user of PrankDial’s services has no control as to the content of the call, we feel it is unlikely they will be able to use our services to violate the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009. Additionally, caller id spoofing with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value is in direct violation of PrankDial’s Terms of Service.
What about sharing recordings on social networks?
In order to share pranks publicly, PrankDial requires the person sharing the prank to obtain a “Recording Release and License” from all participants on the call. The person sharing also indemnifies PrankDial through our Terms of Services from any and all claims resulting from their actions.
Are you allowed to use celebrity and character impersonation recordings?
Absolutely! Since PrankDial’s use of the celebrity’s name and likeness does not propose a particular commercial transaction, it is likely to be free from liability. The First Amendment also provides a strong countervailing defense allowing use of a trademark for parodic purposes. To the extent a given impersonation is found to have that parodic intent of targeting some criticism at the impersonated celebrity, it would help to offset any risks of potential infringement. Additionally, fictional characters are copyrightable if they have been given sufficiently particular expression. However, it is unlikely that the voice elements of a character would be necessarily infringed by an impersonation, because of the difficulties involved in proving a valid copyright in a particular vocal style.