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It Looks Like Taylor Swift Is Stealing Art From Indie Games Now

Taylor Swift has a reputation for demanding compensation for her work. She wrote an op-ed in Wall Street Journal last year on artists’ rights, declaring that “music is art, and art should be paid for.” She’s so protective, she has a history of going after independent artists and merchants who use her lyrics or image on products for sale on sites like Etsy.

However, she also has a history of allegedly using the work of small artists without credit or compensation. And now she’s doing so again–by the looks of it, ripping off one of the best indie video games of the year.

Night in the Woods is a beautiful game about a young anthropomorphic cat who moves back home after dropping out of college and has to explore herself, her town, her relationships, and humanity itself.

Taylor Swift Tix” is the partnership between Swift and Ticketmaster that ostensibly aims to let fans buy concert tickets before bots and scalpers get them all, as long as you’re willing to buy a bunch of merchandise first to “boost” your priority status.

These two things should never be associated with one another. And yet here we are:

For the record, this is Mae from Night in the Woods:

This is a shameless reproduction:

This happened a couple of weeks ago, and I completely missed it until I saw this tweet go out:

But missing it was likely exactly what Swift and Ticketmaster were banking on. The game was created by a team of three people, and while their audience is devoted, they are microscopic by Taylor Swift standards. This must have looked like a pretty easy target.

(And yes, of course Taylor Swift didn’t make this video, nor was she likely aware of this game, but she and Ticketmaster employ people who use other artists’ work to promote their stuff without acknowledging their influence. Swift is very much at fault for continuing to let this happen and refusing to acknowledge the original art publicly.)

At the time, Scott Benson, the game’s creator, said that he found this funny, and sees it as a “fond reference” more than stolen art. I’m glad he’s not angry. But that doesn’t mean his fans aren’t. For one thing, Mae is a character that a lot of fans felt a deep personal connection with. We all know how protective fans can get when it comes to their chosen characters, and to see Mae appropriated by such a mainstream entity is jarring. Even if you find it funny, it’s a weird thing to do with this character.

Much more serious is the lack of credit given to independent artists. Even if this was a “fond reference” made by someone on the Swift/Ticketmaster payroll, how fond can it be with no compensation or even acknowledgment offered?

If Taylor Swift is going to sell herself as a proponent of artists’ rights, she needs to care about artists that aren’t just herself. She especially needs to refrain from borrowing/stealing/making “references” or tributes without proper payment and credit. Because video games are art and “art should be paid for,” right, Taylor?

(image: Night in the Woods)

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