A case of Bad Blood? Taylor Swift Sued for Alleged Copyright Infringement

2 minute read
Taylor Swift released her album “Lover” in 2019, and it went on to become the best-selling album of the year. Now, Swift faces a copyright infringement lawsuit that alleges her Lover album (and accompanying book) copied the expressive designs and creative elements of author Teresa La Dart’s book by the same title. 

La Dart’s official complaint is largely predicated on her assertion that the stylistic elements of her book are not typical, and that they are not present within other published works. Therefore, she alleges that there is a substantially similar overall impression of the two works that constitutes infringement. 

In order to prove her allegations, La Dart has the burden of proving two elements:

  1. She owns a valid copyright 
  2. Swift copied constituent elements of La Dart’s original work

La Dart’s complaint establishes that she obtained a valid copyright registration for her book in 2010. The more difficult element to prove is the second, as it relies on La Dart using circumstantial evidence to support her claims. 

For example, La Dart’s complaint asserts that Swift had “repeated and long-term access” to her book “Lover“ as it was available through various channels after its publication. If she is unable to provide evidence that the work was actually accessed, she must show that there is a “striking similarity” between her work and Swift’s.

La Dart claims that Swift’s album and accompanying book contain a “substantially similar” format, color scheme, and design. The identical titles, of course, are also at issue. The complaint also alleges that the photographs of the two women on the covers of their respective books are similar enough to warrant infringement, as they are each shown in an “upward pose.” 

An additional element often used to prove copyright infringement is that the defendant sought commercial advantage or private financial gain. While La Dart’s complaint does not explicitly accuse Swift of such, it certainly implies it by referring to the considerable number of sales and subsequent monetary gains of Swift’s Lover album.

The complaint, filed on August 23rd, 2022, declares that La Dart has been irreparably harmed by Swift’s album. She is seeking $1 million in damages, as well as Swift’s profits attributable to the infringement. At the time of this publication, there were currently no substantive updates on the case.

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