Q: Can I create an educational songwriting class that's called something like: Taylor Swift-inspired Hit Songwriting Class?

I'd like to create a songwriting class that teaches hit songwriting techniques used by pro songwriters such as Taylor Swift. I'd like to call the class:

"Taylor Swift-influenced Hit Songwriting Class" (or)

"Taylor Swift-inspired Hit Songwriting Class"

I know universities like Harvard have classes now about Taylor Swift called "Taylor Swift and Her World." I'm wondering how can I use her name in the name of the class, like the ones above, that fits within the parameters of educational fair-use and doesn't infringe on her IP?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Using a celebrity's name in an educational course title can be tricky, as it may raise concerns about intellectual property rights and potential false endorsement. However, there are ways to reference Taylor Swift's name in your course title that are more likely to fall under fair use for educational purposes. Here are some guidelines:

1. Make it clear that the course is not endorsed by or affiliated with Taylor Swift. You can do this by adding a disclaimer in your course description or materials.

2. Focus on the educational aspect of the course and how Taylor Swift's songwriting techniques are being used as a teaching tool. Emphasize that the course is about learning songwriting techniques rather than solely focusing on Taylor Swift herself.

3. Use language that implies inspiration or influence rather than direct association. For example, "Songwriting Techniques Inspired by Taylor Swift" or "Hit Songwriting: Lessons from Taylor Swift's Artistic Style."

4. Avoid using Taylor Swift's name or image in any promotional materials or course logos without permission, as this could potentially infringe on her publicity rights.

5. Be prepared to change the course title if you receive a cease and desist letter from Taylor Swift's legal team.

Here are a few alternative course titles that are less likely to raise legal concerns:

- "Hit Songwriting Techniques: Inspiration from Taylor Swift and Other Top Artists"

- "Crafting Hit Songs: Lessons from Taylor Swift's Songwriting Style"

- "Songwriting Strategies of Contemporary Pop Artists like Taylor Swift"

Remember, while educational fair use does provide some flexibility, it's always best to err on the side of caution and consult with a legal professional if you have specific concerns.

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