A Mississippi woman has dropped her copyright lawsuit claiming that Taylor Swift stole aspects of a self-published book of poetry when she created a companion book for her album Lover, months after the star’s lawyers called it a case that “never should have been filed.”
Teresa La Dart sued Swift last year, claiming that “a number of creative elements” from her 2010 book (also called Lover) were copied into Swift’s book. But in a motion filed Thursday in Tennessee federal court, La Dart’s lawyer said she would permanently drop the case.
The sudden voluntary dismissal — which appears to be unilateral and not the product of any kind of settlement — came after Swift’s lawyers harshly criticized the lawsuit in their last filing. Demanding that case be dismissed, they said it was “legally and factually baseless” and “never should have been filed.”
Those arguments echoed what legal experts told Billboard were serious flaws in La Dart’s case. Lawyers said that she was essentially suing Swift over stock elements that could not be monopolized by any one author: “This person might as well sue anyone who’s ever written a diary or made a scrap book.”
Faced with such strong counter-arguments, dropping the case might have made monetary sense for La Dart. If she had continued to litigate the case and had ultimately lost, the judge may have ordered her to repay Swift’s legal bills — a sum that could have totaled tens of thousands of dollars.
La Dart sued Swift in August over the star’s Lover book — an extra bundled with the special edition of her Lover album that the New York Times called a “must-read companion” for Swifties. Released in four different versions, Swift’s book included a total of 120 pages of personal diary entries, accompanied by photos selected by the singer.
The lawsuit claimed that Swift had borrowed a number of visual elements from La Dart, including “pastel pinks and blues” and an image of the author “photographed in a downward pose.” She also claimed a copyright to the book’s overall format, including “a recollection of past years memorialized in a combination of written and pictorial components” and “interspersed photographs and writings.”
Just one problem: In their response in February, Swift’s lawyers said those elements were nothing more than commonplace features of almost any book, meaning they fall well short of being unique enough to qualify for copyright protection.
“This is a lawsuit that never should have been filed,” attorney Doug Baldridge wrote for the superstar. “These allegedly-infringing elements, each a generic design format, are not subject to copyright protection. Thus, defendants could not possibly have infringed plaintiff’s copyright.”
That motion to dismiss the case remained pending when La Dart dropped the case on Thursday. Baldridge did not return a request for comment on Thursday.
La Dart’s attorney William S. Parks did not immediately return a request for comment. But after Swift’s response in February, he defended bringing the case: “Miss La Dart has questions that will hopefully and eventually be answered regarding her perceived similarities between the two works,” Parks said at the time. “Unfortunately, she felt it necessary to bring this suit in order to possibly obtain such answers. We will see how the judge decides at this point.”