Taylor Swift has said “look what you made me do!” to a lot of people over her career. The lawsuit-happy singer has racked up quite a record over the years, both on the serving and receiving end of legal action. Recently, songwriters slapped her with another legal battle to “shake off,” due to the lyrics to that song.
Are players gonna play?
Sean Hall and Nathan Butler say they wrote a song entitled “Playas Gon’ Play” back in 2001, TMZ reported. The song hit #81 on Billboard Hot 100, and recorded by girl group, 3LW. The lyrics read, “Playas, they gonna play and haters, they gonna hate.” Hall and Butler say 20% of “Shake it Off” is their song. Butler also worked with the Backstreet Boys, Christina Milian, Aaron Carter, and Victoria Beckham. Hall also worked with Justin Bieber, Lionel Richie, Pink, and Maroon 5.
Swift’s representative later told TMZ, “This is a ridiculous claim and nothing more than a money grab. The law is simple and clear. They do not have a case.”
Next: Speaking of grabs …
Swift sues DJ for groping her
One-time KYGO host David Mueller sued the singer for $3 million. He called her allegations that he touched her under her clothing during a 2013 meet-and-greet false, and said they caused him to lose his job. Swift then countersued, accusing Mueller of assault and battery.
Swift took Mueller to court for a symbolic $1 “as an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating act,” according to Rolling Stone. The singer testified that Mueller made “a definite grab … A very long grab. He grabbed my [butt] underneath my skirt.” She called the incident “horrifying and shocking.” The photographer who snapped the picture also testified that she witnessed the alleged groping.
Next: Who made that (bleep) famous?
Kanye claims responsibility for Swift’s fame (again)
Kanye West and Swift sparred over lyrics in West’s “Famous,” and the internet loves it. Kim Kardashian later leaked a video of the phone call in which West called Kanye to approve the lyrics. The two represent only a tiny portion of stars Swift has fought with. In the Snapchat video Kardashian took, Swift said, “If people ask me about it, I think it would be great for me to be like, ‘Look, he called me and told me the line before it came out. Joke’s on you guys, We’re fine.'”
“You guys want to call this a feud; you want to call this throwing shade but right after the song comes out I’m going to be on a Grammy’s red carpet and they’re going to ask me about it and I’ll be like, ‘He called me’ … There’s not like one [line] that hurts my feelings and one that doesn’t.’”
Later, Swift released an Instagram statement about the issue. “Where in the video of Kanye telling me he was going to call me ‘that bitch’ in his song? It doesn’t exist because it never happened. You don’t get to control someone’s emotional response to being called ‘that bitch’ in front of the entire world.” She also maintains West said he would play her the song, which he did not.
TMZ obtained a letter Swift’s lawyers drew up suing West and Kardashian for illegally filming the conversation. The lawyer made it clear, under California law, that anyone who secretly records a telephone conversation with someone in the state commits a criminal offense … and it’s a felony.
Next: Swift says she owns rights to these words
Swift basically tried to copyright the entire English language
The singer holds her lyrics tight, from a copyright perspective. She owns copyrights for a lot of her catchy phrasework, and claims remain open for a lot more.
Swift won’t allow anyone but her to make money from branded T-shirts, mugs, temporary tattoos, “printed publications,” stickers, and other trinkets with a range of seemingly common phrases. They include “This Sick Beat,” “Party Like It’s 1989,” “‘Cause We Never Go Out of Style,” “Nice to Meet You. Where You Been?” and “Could Show You Incredible Things.”
Next: That copyright obsession led to a “scary” situation, one Etsy shopkeeper describes
Etsy fans scared off by Swift’s legal team
Buzzfeed reported that many Etsy crafters received cease and desist letters, after allegedly violating Swift’s copyright claims. Swift’s empire includes a licensing arm to enact just such measures. Launched in May 2011, TAS licenses pictures of Swift to publishers and picture agencies and manages her trademarks.
One affected seller told the news outlet, “when we got the e-mail that the trademark infringement occurred, we were pretty shocked because while our item was popular, we didn’t feel as if it had become popular enough to cause harm to Taylor Swift’s empire. We were shocked. And we were scared. We didn’t even make enough money for a lawyer and this had seemed like such a harmless and fun idea.”
Next: Etsy artists aren’t alone in bearing the brunt of Swift’s wrath
Artist gets cease and desist from ‘Taylor Smith’
A Melbourne, Australia, artist created a mural memorializing Swift. The BBC said he intentionally misspelled her name “Taylor Smith,” to avoid the inevitable legal backlash. Lushsux, the artist, originally posted a photo of the mural on Instagram with a caption. It read: “The recent passing of @taylorswift is heart wrenching. Come and leave some flowers and light some candles at her memorial in Hosier Lane in honour of her memory.”
The artist said he later received the cease and desist letter from Swift’s lawyer, regardless. Because the mural lived in a notorious area for graffiti, another artist quickly tagged over it. Lushsux, who has caricatured other celebrities as well, said he laughed off the tagging.
Next: Are there teardrops on Swift’s guitar over who taught her to play it?
Swift slams former guitar teacher for confusing her narrative
The Daily Beast shared a selection of Swift’s legal issues, including one with her original guitar teacher.
To hear Swift tell it, her transformation from plucky tween to pop-country sensation was a “magical twist of fate.” She said, “I was doing my homework [when the tech fixing my computer] looked over and saw the guitar in the corner. And he said, ‘Do you play guitar?’ I said, ‘Oh. No. I tried, but … ’ He said ‘Do you want me to teach you a few chords?’ and I said, ‘Uh, yeah. YES!’”
According to that tech, Ronnie Cremer, that story does not check out. While Cremer does tech work in Reading, Penn., the Swift family approached him deliberately because of his local music cred. He taught the budding star for six hours a week, at $32 an hour. “It’s just that their publicity team, that doesn’t sell as good: a 36-year-old bald guy taught her. That ain’t gonna work,” he said.
After the Cremer story broke, Swift’s TAS arm slapped him with a potential lawsuit. “I did do computer work for them, but the computer work eventually came after I started doing guitar work. It went from teaching her guitar, to teaching her how to structure songs,” he told the New York Daily News. “I mean, they put this act together so flawlessly.”
Rather than looking for a payout, Cremer asked for a simpler solution — for Swift to come clean to the world about his role in the creation of one of the biggest pop stars of all time.
Will the Swift machine open up about their machinations to breed the star? Probably not. The Swift appeal rests heavily in her homegrown, squeaky-clean feel, and Cremer’s story could blow that a lot wider open than a few Etsy trinkets.
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