Taylor Swift Shakes Off Copyright Lawsuit after Dismissal
Taylor Swift now has another thing she can shake off: a copyright lawsuit. Back in September, the songwriters behind 3LW's 2001 single "Playas Gon' Play" sued the pop star, claiming the lyrics to "Shake It Off" infringed on their lyrics. On Tuesday (February 13), a California federal judge thought differently.
The lyrics in question? The girl group sang "Playas, they gonna play / And haters, they gonna hate,” while Swift declared "The players gonna play, play, play, play, play and the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.”
U.S. District Judge Michael Fitzgerald granted Swift's motion to dismiss the suit but is giving plaintiffs Sean Hall and Nathan Butler a chance to amend their complaint by February 26. Because there is no question as to whether or not Hall and Butler own the lyrics nor that Swift's team had access to the song, it's up to Fitzgerald to analyze whether or not there are substantial similarities between protected lyrics.
"The lynchpin of this entire case is thus whether or not the lyrics 'Playas, they gonna play / And haters, they gonna hate' are eligible for protection under the Copyright Act," he writes. "[B]y 2001, American popular culture was heavily steeped in the concepts of players, haters, and player haters. ... The concept of actors acting in accordance with their essential nature is not at all creative; it is banal."
Though it sounds like it will be hard to change Judge Fitzgerald's mind, he's giving the plaintiffs a chance.
"The allegedly infringed lyrics are short phrases that lack the modicum of originality and creativity required for copyright protection," writes Fitzgerald. "While the Court is extremely skeptical that Plaintiffs will – in a manner consistent with Rule 11 – be able to rehabilitate their copyright infringement claim in an amended complaint, out of an abundance of forbearance it will give Plaintiffs a single opportunity to try."
Listen to both songs in question below.