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Taylor Swift Threatening Lawsuit for Private Jet Emission Tracking

Posted by on Saturday, February 17, 2024 in Blog Posts.

By Justine May

Superstar Taylor Swift has been trending in the news for quite some time. Swift has been touring her massively popular, economy-boosting, Eras Tour.[1] She was named Time Magazine’s 2023 Person of the Year and was Spotify’s most-streamed artist globally in 2023.[2] Her recent romance with Kansas City Chief’s tight end Travis Kelce has been the subject of intense gossip.[3] Swift recently made history, being the first artist to win the Grammy award for album of the year for the fourth time.[4]

However, not all the press surrounding the star has been good. Swift, who is known to be quite litigious, has recently been under fire for her private jet usage and the resulting contributions to carbon emissions.[5] The most recent target of her legal attacks is a junior from the University of Central Florida.[6] Jack Sweeney runs social media accounts reporting the private jet usage of various celebrities—Swift included—using publicly available travel information from the Federal Aviation Association and other volunteer organizations.[7] Swift’s lawyers sent the student a cease-and-desist letter demanding he stop publishing the travel data.[8] Swift’s lawyers did not specify what legal theories she would potentially be suing under merely demanding he stop his “stalking and harassing behavior” that had increased Swift’s “constant state of fear for her personal safety,” or else she would “have no choice but to pursue any and all legal remedies.”[9]

So, the question remains, what claims could Swift bring?

A stalking action likely would not survive, as this claim requires that the accused make some credible threat and placed the victim in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury.[10] It appears that Sweeney satisfies neither of these elements. Sweeney does not seem to have made any threats, and while his publications may increase visibility about Swift’s whereabouts, he is consolidating information that has already been made available to the public. Likewise, Sweeney posts his flight updates with a 24-hour delay, mitigating the chances of an increased risk to Swift.[11] A harassment cause of action would likely be unsuccessful as well, as this claim has very similar elements as stalking,[12] though there is bound to be variations between state laws.

Swift’s strongest potential claim could come under a tort theory, through invasion of the right to privacy, but this legal theory also suffers potentially fatal defects. The right to privacy can arise in several different contexts, but putting one’s private affairs in the limelight can give rise to liability. The most relevant here are the theories of “intrusion upon seclusion,”[13] and “publicity given to private life.”[14] However, these causes of actions only concern private affairs, and, while the location information of a person is arguably very private, this is heavily rebutted by the fact that all this information was obtained from publicly available sources. Similarly, under the “intrusion” theory, liability can only attach if the intrusion is “highly offensive to a reasonable person,” and flight and emissions information probably does not qualify. Likewise, under the “publicity given to private life” theory, liability cannot arise if the matter publicized is of “concern to the public,” which given the controversy surrounding this issue, likely means that Sweeney’s publications cannot give rise to liability. Whatever crafty legal theories Taylor Swift’s lawyers may formulate, the First Amendment would also pose a large impediment to any suit challenging Sweeney’s conduct.[15]

Justine May is a current 2L at Vanderbilt Law School. She plans on focusing on Patent Litigation and other intellectual property matters after graduating law school.

[1] Monica Mercuri, 9 Times Taylor Swift Crushed 2023, Forbes (Dec. 12, 2023, 4:01 PM),

[2] Id.

[3] See e.g., Kase Wickman, Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce’s Super Bowl 2024 Celebration Is Basically a “Love Story” Music Video, Vanity Fair (Feb. 12, 2024),

[4] Lisa Richwine, Grammys 2024: Taylor Swift Makes History with Fourth Album of the Year Win, Reuters (Feb. 5, 2024, 7:02 PM),

[5] See Isabella O’Malley, Why Taylor Swift’s Globe-Trotting in Private Jets is Getting Scrutinized, Associated Press (Feb. 2, 2024, 10:18 PM),

[6] See Drew Harwell, Taylor Swift Threatens Legal Action Against Student Who Tracks Her Jet, Wash. Post (Feb. 6, 2024, 8:00 AM),

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] See 86 C.J.S. Threats § 22 (2023).

[11] See Harwell, supra note 6.

[12] See, e.g., Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-308 (West 2016); Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-21-701 (West 2023)

[13] Restatement (Second) of Torts § 652B (1977) (“One who intentionally intrudes, physically or otherwise, upon the solitude or seclusion of another or his private affairs or concerns, is subject to liability to the other for invasion of his privacy, if the intrusion would be highly offensive to a reasonable person.”).

[14] Restatement (Second) of Torts § 652D (1977) (“One who gives publicity to a matter concerning the private life of another is subject to liability to the other for invasion of his privacy, if the matter publicized is of a kind that

(a) would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, and

(b) is not of legitimate concern to the public.”).

[15] See Sorrell v. IMS Health Inc., 564 U.S. 552, 568 (2011) (“An individual’s right to speak is implicated when information he or she possesses is subjected to ‘restraints on the way in which the information might be used’ or disseminated.”) (internal citations omitted).

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