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Taylor Swift and Her Intellectual Property Troubles

by Lara TALİ

Taylor Alison Swift was born in Pennsylvania on December 13, 1989. She is a country and pop singer-songwriter who sings tales of heartbreak, love, and relationships that are often inspired by her personal life. Swift relocated to Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of 14 to pursue a career in country music. She signed deals with two big companies, Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Big Machine records. In 2006, Swift released her first album called Taylor Swift, and it peaked at number five on the U.S. Billboard 200, where it spent 157 weeks, the most prolonged stay on the chart by any release in the U.S. in the 2000s. While Swift was 17, she had managed to climb the Billboard chart like a bandit. This achievement was a sign that in the future, she would be facing some problems with the companies she signed deals with because, at first, the authorities had doubted that she would be successful in the industry.

 Firstly, it is necessary to mention the sequence of events in Taylor Swift's Intellectual Property troubles. Intellectual Property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, symbols, names, and images used in commerce. IP is protected in law by patents, trademarks, and copyrights, enabling people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they create. By striking a balance between the interests of innovators and the public interest, the IP system aims to foster an environment in which both creativity and its preservation. So when Swift signed the contract with Big Machine, she also acknowledged the clause that provides the company to own the rights to recordings produced by Swift. The contract came to an end in 2018, and Swift signed with another company but did not take her records with her. The IP rights of Swift's recordings were approximately sold for 300 million dollars. As a result of this, the holder of the IP continues to make a profit on those recordings whenever they are bought or licensed, entirely out of Swift's control and without Swift making any profit. Is that fair, though?

When signing the deal with Big Machine, Swift was a small fish in a giant pond, just one (15-year-old) teenager literally up against a 'big machine.' She was undoubtedly grateful that Big Machine was giving her the chance to pursue her career. Also, when Swift was signing that contract, she was not expecting to start a business out of music, yet here she is. So, Swift signed over the rights to recordings. Moreover, she did it voluntarily. When the deal hit the news, it made a tremendous impact; her fans obviously freaked out and showed a knee-jerk reaction about the issue. After this scandal, Swift started to re-record her old albums and released the 'Red (Taylor's version)' album. While releasing the album, Swift added the longer version of her song, 'All Too Well,' and also she wrote and directed her first short film named the same as the song. The film has 8.4 IMDB points out of 10, and fans are pleased with Swift's work. After that, Swift continued on to release her re-recorded album 'Fearless.' While ending this paragraph, we must consider in mind that Taylor has written and recorded two brand new albums in 2020 during a pandemic, she has incredible writing skills and the wits to write down her experiences in an unusual way. She has won many awards so far, including the 2021 Grammy Award for Album of the Year with the release of Folklore. As a Swiftie, I am more than excited to see her ambition and creativeness reflecting on her art and can not wait to see more.

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