Last month, I blogged about a suit filed against Taylor Swift by Evermore Park, a Utah-based "immersive experience theme park." That post is available here. In a nutshell, the park claimed that by naming her most recent album "Evermore," Swift had infringed its trademark rights. Among other things, Evermore Park complained about Swift's use of explicit lyrics and sale of merchandise that used vulgar terms (e.g., a "Fancy Shit" coffee mug).
Now the tables have turned. Swift's management company and the owner of her copyrights and other IP rights, TAS Rights Management, LLC, has sued Evermore Park and its founder/CEO Ken Bretschneider in federal court in Swift's home state of Tennessee claiming that Evermore Park has infringed Swift's copyrights by playing Swift's music at the park without proper licensing. According to the Complaint, available here, the performing rights organization BMI has been demanding since 2019 that Evermore Park obtain a public performance license, but no license has been obtained. The Complaint further alleges that "actors" at Evermore Park perform copyrighted music requested by park visitors, including songs written by Swift and by many other prominent artists, and that these endeavors are encouraged by Bretschneider.
It's not all that common for an individual artist to sue a specific venue for music copyright infringement, but Swift is apparently pretty irked at the suit by Evermore Park. Moreover, given the public reports that Evermore Park is in a precarious financial situation, perhaps Swift sees this as a way to apply pressure designed to end the entire dispute.
Among the things to look forward to in the Tennessee litigation include whether Evermore Park fights Swift's assertion of jurisdiction and venue. It certainly is not clear, based on the allegations of the complaint (mostly based on communications with BMI's Nashville office and the fact that tickets to Evermore Park and park merchandise are available in Tennessee), that Evermore Park's activities in Tennessee are sufficient for the exercise of personal jurisdiction there.
So as they say in the music and litigation worlds, "stay tuned."
This alert provides general coverage of its subject area. We provide it with the understanding that Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz is not engaged herein in rendering legal advice, and shall not be liable for any damages resulting from any error, inaccuracy, or omission. Our attorneys practice law only in jurisdictions in which they are properly authorized to do so. We do not seek to represent clients in other jurisdictions.