Taylor Swift Will Be Sued Over Shake It Off Lyrics

Posted by Mike Schumacher

Taylor Swift will face a jury trial on allegations that she plagiarized lyrics from another song for her 2014 smash Shake It Off.

Swift’s plea for the lawsuit to be dismissed on the grounds that a jury may decide that the song duplicated Playas Gon’ Play, a song by girl group 3LW published in 2001, was denied by a US court. The lyrics “players going to play” and “haters going to hate” appear in both songs.

The music star’s reps have been approached for comment by The Guardian.

The complaint was first rejected by District Judge Michael W Fitzgerald in 2018, who said the lyrics were too “banal” to be protected, citing 13 songs by Fleetwood Mac and the Notorious BIG that used similar language.

However, Playas Gon’ Play composers Sean Hall and Nathan Butler filed an appeal, requesting a jury trial and unspecified damages, and the result was overturned by a federal court in October 2019.

“These men are not the originators, or creators, of the common phrases ‘players’ or ‘haters,’ or combinations of them,” a Swift spokeswoman said. They didn’t coin these lines, and they weren’t the first to utilize them in a song.”

They stated their belief that the “true Shake It Off writers” – Swift and co-producers Max Martin and Shellback – “will triumph once more.” [Hall and Butler’s] claim is a crusade for Mr. Hall’s money account, not for all creatives.”

Swift’s motion for a summary judgment, which would have quickly concluded that she did not violate copyright, was denied by Fitzgerald on December 9th.

“Even though there are some noticeable differences between the works, there are also significant similarities in word usage and sequence/structure,” Fitzgerald wrote, adding that “at this time, the court cannot determine that no reasonable juror could find substantial similarity of lyrical phrasing, word arrangement, or poetic structure between the two works.”

The judge “did the right thing,” according to Hall and Butler’s lawyers.

“Our clients are finally getting the justice they so richly deserve,” Marina Bogorad, a lawyer, said. “The opinion… is especially satisfying to them because it reinforces the notion that their creativity and unique expression cannot be misappropriated without retaliation.”

The song by 3LW reached No. 21 in the UK and No. 81 in the US. Shake It Off is Swift’s best-selling song, having charted at No. 2 in the UK and No. 1 in the US.

This isn’t the first time Swift has had to deal with a copyright issue with Shake It Off. Jessie Braham, an R&B artist, claimed in November 2015 that the song plagiarized his 2013 song Haters Gonna Hate. He sued Swift and Sony for $42 million in damages, but his action was rejected due to a lack of factual proof.

The new trial’s start date has yet to be determined. Swift has made a point of pushing for artists’ rights and pursuing those who she feels have infringed on her copyright in recent years, and the result of the case might become a reputational problem for her.

On either side of the divide, these aren’t uncommon settings for Swift. On her 2017 track Look What You Made Me Do, which interpolated the tune of their 1992 song I’m Too Sexy, she granted British pop band Right Said Fred a creative credit.

She earned a co-writing credit on Olivia Rodrigo’s song Deja Vu this year in recognition of the song’s similarities to her 2019 song Cruel Summer, which she co-wrote with Jack Antonoff and St Vincent AKA Annie Clark.

Swift stated in 2016 that she was a co-writer on Rihanna’s song This Is What You Came For, which was written by Swift’s ex-boyfriend Calvin Harris. Previously, she was credited as Nils Sjöberg, a pseudonym.

Swift was just ranked the world’s second most-streamed artist in 2021 by Spotify. Bad Bunny, a Puerto Rican singer, beat her to the top place.

Thanks to at The Guardian whose reporting provided the original basis for this story.

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