Taylor Swift Responds To “Shake It Off” Copyright Lawsuit, Says The Lyrics “Were Written Entirely By Me”
Taylor Swift has responded at length to a 2017 copyright lawsuit claiming she stole the lyrics to her 2014 hit single “Shake It Off” from the 2001 song “Playas Gon’ Play” by 3LW. “The lyrics to ‘Shake It Off’ were written entirely by me,” Swift wrote in a motion filed today, according to Billboard.
In writing the lyrics, I drew partly on experiences in my life and, in particular, unrelenting public scrutiny of my personal life, “clickbait” reporting, public manipulation, and other forms of negative personal criticism which I learned I just needed to shake off and focus on my music.
I recall hearing phrases about players play and haters hate stated together by other children while attending school in Wyomissing Hills, and in high school in Hendersonville. These phrases were akin to other commonly used sayings like “don’t hate the playa, hate the game,” “take a chill pill,” and “say it, don’t spray it.”
Swift added that she’d heard the disputed phrase in “many songs, films, and other works” and pointed out a live performance from 2013 where she wore a T-shirt from Urban Outfitters with the phrase “haters gonna hate.” She said: “I was struck by messages that people prone to doing something will do it, and the best way to overcome it is to shrug it off and keep living.”
In 2018 a judge dismissed the lawsuit, but an appeals panel resurrected the case last year. In December 2021, a judge ruled that the case was too close to call and would ultimately be decided by a jury trial, though a court date has not been set. Swift’s attorneys are currently asking the judge to grant a summary judgment and forego a trial.
“It is, unfortunately, not unusual for a hit song to be met by litigants hoping for a windfall based on tenuous claims that their own song was copied,” Swift’s lawyer Peter Anderson wrote in today’s motion. “But even against that background, Plaintiffs’ claim sticks out as particularly baseless.”
Swift also added that she had never heard the song “Playas Gon’ Play” until 2017, when the lawsuit was first filed by the songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler. “Until learning about Plaintiffs’ claim in 2017, I had never heard the song ‘Playas Gon’ Play’ and had never heard of that song or the group 3LW,” Swift wrote, noting how her parents “did not permit me to watch TRL until I was about 13 years old.
“None of the CDs I listened to as a child, or after that, were by 3LW,” she continued. “I have never heard the song ‘Playas Gon’ Play’ on the radio, on television, or in any film. The first time I ever heard the song was after this claim was made.”