Taylor Swift Must Face A Jury Trial In “Shake It Off” Copyright Lawsuit
Back in 2017, songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler sued Taylor Swift, alleging that the lyrics to her #1 hit “Shake It Off” infringed on their song “Playas Gon’ Play,” released by the group 3LW in 2001. In 2018 a judge dismissed the lawsuit, but an appeals panel resurrected the case last year. And now it looks like Swift will have to stand trial.
As Billboard reports, on Thursday US District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald refused Swift’s request to toss out the case. Although the judge said there were “some noticeable differences” between the songs, there were “enough objective similarities” that a jury would have to decide. Although he believes Swift’s team will be able to present “a strong closing argument” in a trial, the trial will nonetheless have to proceed.
The 3LW song includes the lyrics “playas, they gonna play” and “haters, they gonna hate.” The chorus to “Shake It Off” reads, “Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play/ And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.” So the judge isn’t wrong — objectively, the lyrics are almost identical, even if a jury may decide the context suggests no copyright infringement occurred. If Swift takes the stand, it won’t be her first time; in 2017 she testified in against a Denver radio DJ in a sexual assault lawsuit she eventually won.