Taylor Swift is one of the most renowned musicians in the world. As a master in her craft, Swift’s music spans the country and pop genres. Often writing songs pertaining to her own life experiences, she creates a bond with her audience, as many can relate to the same issues she writes about. In an attempt to thwart naysayers, she gains the affections of her fans, known as the Swifties. In addition to her physical presence, Swift commands a strong following on social media. At the beginning of this year, she boasted more than 85.5 million Twitter followers and 125 million Instagram followers.
While Swift has been a star since she began her career at the young age of 14, she continues to rise in popularity and stardom. With each of her five concert tours, she consistently increased her worth, attracting a bigger audience and generating more revenue, with fewer shows each time. In addition to her concerts, she generates revenue via endorsements, albums, and merchandise. As such, Swift’s net worth is upwards of $360 million.
Even though Swift enjoys a lucrative career for all of her efforts, she also faces contentions. One of those contentions that many musicians before her have encountered includes the threat of a copyright infringement lawsuit. This is not uncommon in the music industry, which is rife with such lawsuits. In fact, in the last five years, the number of infringement cases has risen, causing musicians to become extra cautious and spend more on emissions and omissions (E&O) insurance.
For musicians with chart-topping hits, they are at an even bigger risk of infringement claims. Such is the case with Taylor Swift and her biggest hit to date, “Shake It Off.” Songwriters Nathan Butler and Sean Hall claim that the hit contains phrases lifted from their song “Playas Gon’ Play.” Although the case was dismissed in February 2018 for unoriginal content, it has been reinstated by the Ninth Circuit. Both parties argue about the usage of the common words “Players” and “Haters,” and variations thereof. Butler and Hall claim Swift lifted the lyrics from their song, while Swift claims it is merely a coincidence.
This case, along with several others, present “Blurred Lines” within the music industry in regards to copyright infringement. In 2018, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were handed a controversial verdict to the tune of $5 million, making it one of the highest profile copyright infringement cases in the music industry. The verdict raises concerns in the industry that it stifles song creativity for basing a decision on a music style rather than specific aspects of songs.
These concerns seem to be validated with the number of infringement cases increasing for star musicians such as Katy Perry, Ed Sheeran, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift, among others, since the filing of the “Blurred Lines” case. Given that a number of high-profile musicians have lost cases of infringement recently, it will be interesting to see how Swift will Shake It Off in this particular case. At the very least, musicians will have to take extra measures to keep their work protected.