Taylor Swift Responds to Artist’s Infringement Accusations
A spokesperson for Taylor Swift has issued a terse response to a visual artist who accused the pop star of unfairly compensating her for a painting Swift had used without permission.
On Halloween 2014, the singer posted a fan-made watercolor depiction of a fox alongside lyrics to her 1989 song “I Know Places.” When artist Ally Burguieres, who created the fox image and sells prints of it for $45, learned that her painting had been appropriated (with the fan’s signature adorning it), she asked for it to be taken down. Swift complied, but her response was not what Burguieres expected, especially considering how the singer has widely publicized her desire to champion artists’ rights.
In an open letter to Swift, the painter alleged that it took months for Swift to offer her compensation. “After months of effort, I received an offer from you and your team that mentions no credit to me as the artist of the design, but does include payment of a ‘four-figure’ amount, with the stipulation that I must donate it all,” she wrote. “Taylor, as a professional, would you agree to such terms from Apple, or Spotify? My work is my living – it is how I pay bills and support my family and employees.”
Burguieres has since clarified to Rolling Stone that her lawyer alleged that Swift’s lawyer wanted her to donate only “some” of the fee to animal causes. Swift’s rep denies this in her statement, writing, “There was no requirement of a contribution to any charity.”
Swift’s team claims that Burguieres had not contacted Swift’s office, but that they replied when they saw her posting on social media, taking it down and subsequently making her an offer. “Notwithstanding the huge publicity this has generated for Ms. Burguieres and her store, in early November, Ms. Swift’s office made a fair offer of payment well above a reasonable licensing fee for the short time that the fan art was posted online,” the rep tells Rolling Stone.
“[The artist’s lawyer] promised to get back to us with an explanation of why she felt Ms. Burguieres was entitled to more money, but she never did that and the next we heard was Ms. Burguieres’ new posting,” the spokesperson continued. “We have tried on multiple occasions to address Ms. Burguieres’ concerns, but these actions make it clear to us that this is just an unfortunate effort to extract more money and more publicity.”
Burguieres tells Rolling Stone that prior to this statement, she had not reached a resolution with Swift’s team.
“I have no ill will toward you, and I appreciate the theoretical virtue of your stance as a defender of art and intellectual property,” the painter had written to Swift on Facebook. “I simply hope to see your actions fall more in line with the values you claim to hold.”
Read Swift’s spokesperson’s response in full:
A fan has stated that she created the watercolor drawing of a fox, added some of Taylor’s lyrics and signed the artwork as her own, posting it. Ms. Swift, believing it to be the fan’s original work, reposted the fan’s art, with her own comment, continuing the social media conversation. Ms. Burguieres did not contact Taylor’s office, but she posted on social media her claim that the fan had used her drawing. We found that posting, accepted it at face value and immediately took down Taylor’s posting of the fan art. At no time during these postings did Ms. Burguieres contact our office directly.
Notwithstanding the huge publicity this has generated for Ms. Burguieres and her store, in early November, Ms. Swift’s office made a fair offer of payment well above a reasonable licensing fee for the short time that the fan art was posted online. The offer was for a payment to Ms. Burguieres – there was no requirement of a contribution to any charity. Her lawyer further advised us that Ms. Burguieres chose to go after Taylor only, and not against the woman who has admitted she used Ms. Burguieres’ work as inspiration. Ms. Burguieres’ lawyer acknowledged Ms. Swift’s action was unintentional, but rejected the offer. She promised to get back to us with an explanation of why she felt Ms. Burguieres was entitled to more money, but she never did that and the next we heard was Ms. Burguieres’ new posting.
We have tried on multiple occasions to address Ms. Burguieres’ concerns, but these actions make it clear to us that this is just an unfortunate effort to extract more money and more publicity.