Music Business

Taylor Swift, Evermore theme park dispute escalates with countersuit brought by Swift’s team

Taylor Swift is certainly no stranger to legal trouble, and after a theme park in Utah called Evermore attempted to sue Swift, her legal team is now counter-suing the litigious park over unauthorized use of her music.

By Timothy Geigner of Techdirt

In early February, we discussed an extremely dumb lawsuit brought by a theme park in Utah called Evermore against Taylor Swift, who recently released an album called Evermore. The whole thing is buckets of stupid, with the Evermore theme park claiming that because it released a couple of songs on Apple Music, this somehow puts them in the same marketplace as Taylor Swift. Then there were complaints that Swift’s album pushed search results down for the theme park, which doesn’t trademark infringement make.

Swift’s response dismantled the claims the theme park made, but when on to note that Evermore theme park had actually gone on social media and responded to messages about Swift’s album trying to associate the park with the album. In other words, the only potential for public confusion appears to have been generated by the theme park itself.

And now this is going to escalate further as Swift’s management company has countersued the park for the unauthorized use of Swift’s music.

Now, her company TAS Rights Management has countersued, alleging that the park played Swift songs on its grounds “without authorisation or license agreement”. They allege that the park “blatantly ignored the numerous notices from [US performance rights organisation] BMI and opted instead to continue to benefit from the free and unauthorised public performance” of three Swift songs.

Specifically, TAS alleges that one of the attractions of the park is a section where several park actors perform and sing copyrighted music, including a couple of Swift songs. From the filing:

At a section of Evermore Park known as “the Burrows,” two actors regularly and routinely perform copyrighted songs, including the Works at issue in this action, to large crowds of patrons at Evermore Park. These unlawful musical performances are marketed as a central attraction of Evermore Park. For instance, Evermore Park’s website advertises that visitors can “[c]reate fanciful music” with Park actors and describes one of the Park’s main activities as “Musical Character Performances.”

Also noted in the filing, and perhaps most damning, is that the Evermore park reached out to BMI once this lawsuit became imminent and attempted to get a retroactive license to cover these past performances of copyrighted works. Combined with exhibits brought by Swift’s team detailing the several times that BMI has informed Evermore that its use of copyrighted songs was infringing, all of which were ignored by the park, the suit makes the case that the park’s infringement was willful. Frankly, it’s hard to formulate much of an argument against that assertion.

Which makes it useful to reiterate that all of this appears to be a result of Evermore theme park first filing a ridiculous trademark lawsuit of its own. In other words, they decided to poke the hornet’s nest and are now getting stung.

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