It was just last month that Taylor Swift managed to shake a lawsuit for allegedly stealing lyrics for her hit song “Shake It Off”.
Now, the leggy pop star is in hot water again, this time for posting an image on her social media accounts without properly crediting the artist who drew it.
It seems Swifto shared one of Alexandra Burguieres’ signature fox pictures, accompanied by the lyrics from her song “I Know Places” and, um, someone else’s name.
But these things happen, right? It’s an easy mistake to make. Certainly, it’s a pretty straight-forward one to rectify.
Burguieres thought so too and reached out to the singer, who quickly took the picture down and offered a “four-figure” sum in compensation. The kicker was that all of the compensation had to be donated to charity.
Suffice to say Burguieres was unimpressed with the offer and wrote as much in an open letter posted on her Facebook page (which you can read in full below).
Basically, she argues — rather convincingly — that as a professional artist she ought to be paid for her work, especially when that work has been co-opted by someone worth an estimated US $280 million.
“I may “only” have 1239 followers on Instagram, but I believe my work has value. I believe there are many others out there like me,” she writes.
“Many of your fans are professional artists, and support themselves and their families with earnings from their intellectual property. Would you really profit from and distribute a copy of their work to millions of people, and then tell them they don’t deserve professional recognition or compensation?”
The letter has now been shared more than 900 and racked up more than 2,600 likes. You can read it here:
Dear Taylor Swift,
I am a professional artist. With years of work and support from customers, friends, and family, I have built a business around my designs and am (hopefully) adding my own small form of beauty to the world. I now have three shops in New Orleans and gratefully rely on people who demonstrate that art they love is worth paying for. I may “only” have 1239 followers on Instagram, but I believe my work has value. I believe there are many others out there like me.
As a professional artist, I was astonished to see you use one of my most popular designs on all your official social media platforms as part of your promotions for 1989. While I wondered why no one had sought permission or offered compensation to do so, I recognized that such endorsement is a once-in-a-lifetime boost for an artist and can skyrocket an artist’s career. Friends congratulated me and customers expressed joy. But congratulations turned to confusion. The design was a copy, and with someone else’s name signed to it.
I was devastated, but I took solace in thinking that someone so outspoken about artists’ rights would willingly fix her mistake. Mistakes are easy to make; I thought if you only KNEW about the error, you would do what is in your power to make it right. I was wrong. My efforts to combat the pirated and unauthorized copy (and your use and distribution of it to millions of people) were noticed, as you removed the post after several days. But the copy had been shared and downloaded countless times, and it seemed neither you nor your team intended on correcting your mistake.
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. 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. Many of your fans are professional artists, and support themselves and their families with earnings from their intellectual property. Would you really profit from and distribute a copy of their work to millions of people, and then tell them they don’t deserve professional recognition or compensation?
I don’t know what will come of this letter, but for the sake of my own business and on behalf of independent artists like myself, I had to speak up. I have no ill will toward you, and I appreciate the theoretical virtue of your stance as a defender of art and intellectual property. I simply hope to see your actions fall more in line with the values you claim to hold.
So far there’s been no response from the Swift camp, but baby, we’ve certainly got bad blood.
That said Burguieres might also want to have a chat with Aubin & Wills, the company who made this foxy sweater Tay was spotted wearing back in 2012.