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Taylor Swift responds to copyright claim over Lover book similarities

By | Published on Monday 6 February 2023

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift has hit back at a lawsuit filed by writer Teresa La Dart over similarities between a book of poetry written by the latter and a publication that accompanied the deluxe version of the former’s 2019 ‘Lover’ album. The lawsuit is, says Team Swift, “legally and factually baseless”.

La Dart sued last year accusing Swift of ripping off various creative elements of her 2010 poetry book, which was also called ‘Lover’.

The lawsuit claimed that the earlier ‘Lover’ poetry book and the later ‘Lover’ album book had “a substantially similar cover format”, “substantially the same introduction page formats with a similarly styled ‘Lover’ title”, “a substantially similar inner book design” and “a substantially similar colour scheme (pastel pinks and blues)”.

“Stylistically”, La Dart’s lawsuit concluded, “the Swift ‘Lover’ book includes creative elements that are not typical of or present within other published books and – as compared with the La Dart work – leaves an overall impression that the Swift ‘Lover’ book is, again, substantially similar in terms of the above-noted design elements as those within the La Dart work”.

That was all well and good, but are any of the creative elements shared by the two ‘Lover’ books actually protected by copyright? No, says Swift’s formal response. “These allegedly-infringing elements, each a generic design format, are not subject to copyright protection”, a legal filing submitted to the court last week states. “Thus, defendants could not possibly have infringed plaintiff’s copyright”.

Even if these elements did enjoy copyright protection under US law, there is copyright registration in the US and, Swift’s filing goes on, “plaintiff’s copyright registration does not cover [these elements] and she does not have any rights to assert in those allegedly-infringing elements”.

“These flaws are incurable”, it reckons, “and no amendment or attempt to plead around these deficiencies can save plaintiff’s claim”.

But whatever, if these elements were protectable and covered by La Dart’s copyright registration, “plaintiff has not and cannot plead a plausible claim of access by defendants to plaintiff’s work or substantial similarity between the two works”, both of which would be required to prove copyright infringement, Swift’s filing continues.

“Plaintiff has not identified a single instance where her book of poetry was available for defendants to see and has not alleged that defendants had any awareness of or access to her work prior to this lawsuit”, it argues on.

“Moreover, a comparison of the two at-issue works shows that there is no substantial similarity between them. Essentially, all plaintiff has done in her complaint is recite the elements of a claim for copyright infringement without any factual or legal bases to support them. This is woefully insufficient to adequately plead a cause of action and this case should be dismissed with prejudice”.

La Dart’s copyright claim did seem somewhat optimistic from the off, though her lawyer said at the time “my client feels strongly about her position”. It remains to be seen how she now responds to Swift’s arguments.