We have removed the following content from Redbubble as a result of having received a complaint from TAS Rights Management, LLC, the claimed owner or licensee of related intellectual property, and in accordance with Redbubble's IP/Publicity Rights Policy:
Taylor Swift's 'no its becky' T-Shirt: http://www.redbubble.com/people/galepop/works/19160264-taylor-swifts-no-its-becky-t-shirt
As you will be aware from our IP/Publicity Rights Policy, Redbubble requires a certain amount of information before it acts on such a complaint, including that:
- the relevant content is specifically named;
- the complaint came from the owner of the respective rights (or someone authorized to act on their behalf); and
- they have a good faith belief that the use of the relevant content is not authorized by the content owner, its agent or the law.
If you believe that removal of the above content is the result of a mistake (for example, that you have authorization to use the relevant content from the content owner) or misidentification, you can send us a counter notice.
Redbubble Content Team
This is the e-mail that I received two days ago, on the tenth of December, in relation to a t-shirt design I had uploaded to the Redbubble online store. The design in question, uploaded under the title ‘Taylor Swift's 'no its becky' T-Shirt’, is one that had been present on the website for several years, and which had been a moderate source of finances for me as a designer; the company making the complaint was one ‘T[aylor] A[llison] S[swift] Rights Management’, a newly formidable presence in the online design world.
Yet at first glance, for those as yet uninitiated into the 'Swiftie' fandom, the design may seem more related to Beyonce than it is Taylor. The “no its becky” meme began way back in April 2012, when a Tumblr user known as 'Yallarebrutalizingme' made a satirical post about the dangers of “snorting marijuana” with Swift as the poster child for drug addiction. “Please don't wind up like Becky”, the post read, along with a photograph of a high school aged Swift smiling benignly for the camera. User 'bitch-pudding' pointed out the mistaken identity in a reblog before 'dundermilfllin' sarcastically responded with "no its becky".
But in possibly the only truly brilliant move she’s ever made, Swift took the meme to legendary status herself in 2014, about a week after she first created her Tumblr account. In promotion of her new album 1989, the popstar posted a selfie featuring a mustard-colored t-shirt which mimicked the text in dundermilfllin's post - font and all. Fans immediately lost it at the fact that their idol was noticing something they had previously thought of as an inside joke, and the post became a social media hit, gaining over 18 000 notes and being covered by sites such as MTV News and PopCrush.
The memes well documented past makes it all the more strange that Swift and/or her legal team would later try and claim credit for it when it comes to Redbubble designs inspired by it, some of which are still uploaded today. Copyrights and ownerships are notoriously difficult concepts to comprehend on the Internet, especially when the recontextualisations and edits of Tumblr are taken into account, where copyright is generally ignored in favour of a free-for-all melee of appropriation. But if ownership had to be assigned for the "no its becky" quote, if anything it should clearly go to the elusive dundermilfllin, the user who coined the caption in the first place.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Swift has tried to make a dime out of her fans art. In 2014, she used her record label Sony to demand that a ‘Bad Blood’ parody video made by YouTuber Shane Dawson be taken down off the video-sharing website. In February of last year, the popstar controversially sent cease and desist letters to her fans on Etsy who took to the handmade arts website to post work in dedication to the singer. Later that year, in September, she used the aforementioned TAS Rights Management to shut down Periscope streams of her 1989 Tour that were circulating around Twitter. And on a broader scale, she’s famously copyrighted 1989-related phrases such as "This Sick Beat", "'Cause We Never Go Out of Style," "Could Show You Incredible Things" and "Nice to Meet You, Where You Been?". Everyone knows about the time she tried to threaten Kanye West and Kim Kardashian into submission. And the singer is currently in the midst of a lawsuit with a radio DJ who she says touched her inappropriately during a backstage meet and greet.
What are your thoughts on the case? Does Swift deserve the rights, and all associated profits, to the Internet-created “no its becky” meme? Or has she taken her legal rights a step too far? Sound off in the comments down below!