After issuing a litany of baseless threats against a blogger, Taylor Swift’s lawyers are officially backing off.
Taylor Swift’s bullying lawyers just got their asses handed to them — by a blogger they thought they could crush.
After issuing threatening legal demands to PopFront, Los Angeles law firm Venable LLP has now completely backed off. The decision follows the unexpected involvement of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which threatened to fight back in PopFront’s defense.
That caused Swift’s lawyers to go quiet — really fast — despite a litany of overbearing threats.
Funny how that works.
Here’s the official statement from ACLU senior staff attorney Michael Risher.
“The deadline has passed and we have not heard from Ms. Swift or her attorney. Their failure to respond shows that the letter to [PopFront writer] Ms. Herning was full of empty threats and designed to intimidate. We remain concerned about threat letters of this type that effectively discourage people from seeking the legal advice they need to fight back. We encourage anyone who receives them to contact an attorney.”
We’ve contacted Venable LLP attorney William J. Briggs, II, who issued the threatening ‘nastygram’. So far no response, though Briggs appears to be smartly tucking his balls between his legs on this one.
That’s a far cry from the ’empty threats’ issued on October 25th.
“Venable LLP, on behalf of Ms. Swift, demands that PopFront (i) immediately issue a retraction that is of equal prominence to the story by no later than Tuesday, October 24, 2017, (ii) remove the story from all media sources, and (iii) cease and desist from further dissemination or publication. Should PopFront not immediately take these steps, Ms. Swift is prepared to proceed with litigation.”
Strangely, Venable LLP demanded a takedown one day prior to the date of the letter. Either way, those steps were not ‘immediately taken,’ though Swift’s attorneys have yet to take legal action. The presence of the ACLU is the likely reason.
Here’s a little sample of the ACLU’s retort:
“Ms. Herning and PopFront will not in any way accede to your attempt to suppress their constitutionally protected speech. The blog post is a mix of core political speech and critical commentary; it discusses current politics in this country, the recent rise of white supremacy, and the fact that some white supremacists have apparently embraced Ms. Swift, along with a critical interpretation of some of Ms. Swift’s music, lyrics, and videos.”
The PopFront article remains live, and is undoubtedly drawing heavy traffic.
Meanwhile, the ACLU’s presence could create a major problem for Swift’s ongoing litigious attacks. In fact, the ACLU is encouraging anyone bullied by Swift’s attorneys to give them a call — then it’s game on. Separately, Swift’s attorney have been leveling attacks based on some questionable trademark filings — again, using bullying tactics and overbearing threats instead of relying on actual legal merits.
(quick aside: Digital Music News has been threatened by an attorney representing the head of Taylor Swift’s label, Scott Borchetta. Our lawyer advised us to fold rather than fight back, so, yeah, you can call us woosies if you’d like).
The PopFront article tied Taylor Swift to alt-right, white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups.
Those associations have haunted Swift’s career for years, with Swift failing to emphatically denounce the associations. Whether the artist is afraid of alienating a lucrative fanbase is uncertain. But the singer’s popularity within hate-filled factions is undisputed.
In its cease-and-desist, Briggs points to clear denouncements by Swift against white supremacists.
But later in the letter, the attorney fails to cite evidence of any statements coming from the singer herself. “A couple of minutes of online searching reveals two easily accessible articles by well-known publications that clearly refute any purported affinity by Ms. Swift for the alt-right,” Briggs storms on.
Those examples only include statements from another Swift attorney and a journalist — not Swift herself.
So why doesn’t Swift say something?
That’s no longer the elephant in the room. It’s a glaring issue that publications like PopFront are raising — while raising equality uncomfortable questions about attempts to muzzle those questions.
Incidentally, Venable LLC also threatened PopFront against publishing the threat letter, citing questionable confidentiality and US Copyright protections.
“This is a confidential legal notice and is not for publication. Any publication, dissemination or broadcast of any portion of this letter will constitute a breach of confidence and a violation of Copyright Act. You are not authorized to publish this letter in whole or in part absent our express written authorization.”
That turns out to be complete bullshit, so the ACLU published the entire letter.