Taylor Swift turned 26 today, but New Orleans artist Ally Burguieres wasn’t wishing her a happy one.
According to a report by The Mirror, Burguieres took to Facebook to call out superstar Swift, alleging that Taylor had reposted a piece of her art without credit… sort of.
“I am a professional artist. With years of work and support from customers, friends, and family, I have built a business around my designs.”
“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.”
“The design was a copy, and with someone else’s name signed to it. I was devastated.”
Burguieres’ story, according to 9 News Australia, goes that in 2013, she painted a picture of a fox. In 2014, “a Taylor Swift fan” copied that picture (not precisely,) added some Taylor Swift lyrics and signed her own name to the picture. Swift reposted that picture on social media, “with no credit to or permission from me,” and Burguieres contacted Swift and her legal team in an attempt to get credited for the image, thinking that it was an honest 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.”
At the same time, in the post prior to her open letter, Burgueires expanded on the response she had received.
“I received word that although she used a copy of my work to promote her latest album, Taylor Swift isn’t interested in crediting me because—according to her team—her endorsement is too ‘valuable'”
She also recalled Swift’s own comments to Apple after the singer pulled her music from Spotify over the need to pay artists.
“Art is important and rare,” said Swift. “Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. I think there should be an inherent value placed on art.”
Ally Burguieres, who owns two galleries in the French Quarter of New Orleans, closed her letter by stating that she bears Taylor Swift no ill-will, and even supports her as a defender of the arts – but that she had to speak up for her own sake and that of other independent artists whose work is regularly taken advantage of.
It’s certainly true that in the information age, few seem to respect intellectual property rights, and that visual artists often seem to get the worst of it. It’s doubtful that any of us have never quickly Googled an image and reposted it without proper credit, assuming that credit can be found at all.
Burguieres’ case is even murkier. There are a lot of questions we could ask about whether her work was actually shared without her permission here. On the other hand, she’s right that Taylor Swift’s actions aren’t “fall[ing] in line with the values [she claims] to hold.”
Of course, it’s unlikely that Swift herself has been involved in any of this up until now; if nothing else, she’s been on tour since the letter was posted.
Readers, who do you think has the right side here at this point? Should Ally Burguieres have accepted the brush-off offer and removal? Or should Taylor Swift have reposted the picture, crediting her?
[Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images]