A Los Angeles federal judge refused to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a pair of songwriters who claim that Taylor Swift lifted lyrics from their 2001 recording as the basis for her 2014 smash hit “Shake It Off,” court papers obtained Thursday show.
Sean Hall and Nathan Butler alleged their 2017 lawsuit that Swift lifted lyrics from the 2001 3LW recording “Playas Gon’ Play,” which includes the lyrics “Playas, they gonna play, and haters, they gonna hate.”
Swift’s song, meanwhile, has the lyrics: “Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play and the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.”
U.S. District Judge Michael Fitzgerald dismissed the claim in 2018, finding that the disputed lyrics lacked sufficient originality to merit copyright protection. However, an appeals court overturned the Los Angeles federal judge’s decision the following year.
In his ruling Wednesday, Fitzgerald refused to toss the case. The judge wrote that Hall and Butler “have sufficiently alleged a protectable selection and arrangement or a sequence of creative expression” and Swift’s “use as alleged is similar enough” to survive the motion to dismiss.
The plaintiffs seek a share of the profits from Swift’s hit. According to the lawsuit, more than 9 million copies of the song had been sold as of the filing date, along with 6 million copies of Swift’s album “1989,” and the video for the song had nearly 2.4 billion views on YouTube.
When the suit was filed, Swift’s representatives called it “a ridiculous claim and nothing more than a money grab. The law is simple and clear. They do not have a case.”
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