While we’ve been busy singing away to Taylor Swift’s new music, a legal situation involving the megastar has been brewing behind the scenes — one that includes the “Call It What You Want” singer threatening to sue a blogger and, in turn, being challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The ordeal first began back on September 5, when Meghan Herning, an editor for the website PopFront, posted an article called “Swiftly to the alt-right: Taylor Swift subtly gets the lower case ‘kkk’ in formation with ‘Look What You Made me Do’.” The piece says that the 27-year-old’s music has reportedly been co-opted by the alt-right, adding that while there is “no way” to know whether Swift herself sympathizes with the movement, “her silence has not gone unnoticed.”
On October 25, Herning received a letter from Swift’s lawyer demanding that the publication retract their statements and remove the story by October 24 (which was, notably, before the letter was dated). The letter also stated that the performer does, in fact, denounce the white supremacist movement, but requested that PopFront not publish the letter on grounds of copyright protection.
Not wanting to be “bullied by high-paid lawyers or frightened into submission by legal jargon,” according to Variety, the editor contacted the ACLU. “These scare tactics may have worked for Taylor in the past,” she said, “but I am not backing down.”
The legal organization took a look at the circumstances and determined that there is no legal basis to the threat of a lawsuit. They’ve also now published the letter from the celeb’s lawyers, claiming that copyright law does not apply because “this is not a commercial use, and there is no market for this letter, in part because it is tied to the facts of this specific case.”
The ACLU referenced a few of Grammy winner’s own lyrics in their response, saying that “criticism is never pleasant, but a celebrity has to shake it off, even if the critique may damage her reputation.” They also added that “applying these fundamental constitutional principles to your four ‘hideous falsehoods’ shows that not even in your wildest dreams can they constitute defamation.”
Finally, the ACLU is asking that the star and her lawyer respond by November 13 and commit to NOT pursuing any legal action against Herning and PopFront.
We’ll have to wait and see if Taylor Swift does indeed shake it off or if she decides to take the legal action up a notch.
Do you think it’s fair of Taylor Swift’s lawyer to threaten Meghan Herning and PopFront in this case? Let us know @BritandCo!
(Photo via Rick Diamond/Getty)