Judge Rules Copyright Case Against Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” Can Move Forward

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Judge Rules Copyright Case Against Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” Can Move Forward

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Taylor Swift won’t be shaking off her latest copyright lawsuit so easily. USA Today reports that a Los Angeles federal court judge has ruled that two songwriters behind girl group 3LW’s 2001 hit “Playas Gon’ Play” can proceed with their case alleging that Taylor Swift’s 1989 track “Shake It Off” took lyrics from their song.

The original lawsuit, filed by Sean Hall and Nathan Butler, claimed that Swift’s 2014 “Shake It Off” lyrics, “Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play/ And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate,” infringed on lyrics from “Playas Gon’ Play”: “The playas gon’ play/ Them haters gonna hate” and “Playas, they gonna play/ And haters, they gonna hate.”

The lawsuit was first dismissed in 2018, with US District Court judge Michael W. Fitzgerald arguing that “The allegedly infringed lyrics are short phrases that lack the modicum of originality and creativity required for copyright protection.” But a three-judge panel from the Ninth Circuit Court Of Appeals reinstated the case in October, and now Fitzgerald has ruled that the lawsuit can proceed.

“The Court cannot determine at this stage that the lyrics are not substantially similar,” according to the judge. Swift and her team have until 9/21 to file a response.

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