New Orleans artist Ally Burguieres penned a letter to Taylor Swift via Facebook on December 11, detailing an incident in which Swift copied Burguieres' drawing in a promotional Instagram post for 1989.
Burguieres, owner of three shops in NOLA, including a vegan artisan boutique and clothing line Cocoally, writes about being "astonished" to see Swift use one of her most popular drawings in an Instagram post back in October.
Shown below, the image posted by Swift with lyrics from her song, "I Know Places," is stamped with another artist's signature on the right. The original design by Burguieres is on the left.
Since its posting, Swifties ran with the design and recreated their own versions of the fox with the accompanying lyrics.
Burguieres writes of her dismay at the situation, and how she went about handling it, in the post below.
Okay, I pretty much put it out there already, so may as well just put it all out there. Thank you so much... Posted by Ally Burguieres on Friday, December 11, 2015
As she writes, Burguieres reached out to Swift in hopes of gaining recognition for her work, but did not receive a response. Although, it seemed Swift's reps quickly recognized their mistake, as the photo was removed from her Instagram account, which boasts 50 million active followers, less than a week later.
Burguieres addresses the fact that Swift has been adamant (and gotten her way) in the past when fighting for artists' rights and equal pay, namely against music streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.
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.
Burguieres hit a breaking point upon receiving a letter from Taylor Swift's team months after she was forced to hire a lawyer, in which they offer her a "four-digit" sum of money under the condition that it be donated.
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?
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Burguieres says,
I've started to feel intimidated and steamrolled and I'm not even a threat. I'll I'm asking for is credit.
Given Taylor Swift's vocal stance on the matter of equal pay and artists' rights, some might say her actions to resolve this matter are glaringly hypocritical. Are they wrong?