Who is suing Taylor Swift? Shake it Off lawsuit explained as singer asks judge to dismiss jury trial 

Taylor Swift's copyright lawsuit explained (Image via Taylor Swift/ YouTube)
Taylor Swift's copyright lawsuit explained (Image via Taylor Swift/ YouTube)

A federal judge has received a formal request from Taylor Swift requesting the former to have a trial scrapped. This comes after certain lyrics from her hit song “Shake It Off,” were flagged for plagiarism. Swift’s lawyers argued that the judge’s ruling was “unprecedented.”

In 2017, songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler claimed that the “Lover” singer copied lines from their song ‘Playas Gon’ Play,” which was released in 2001. The writer duo had written the song for girl group 3LW.

Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’ lyrics include:

“‘Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play”
“Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate”.

The lines are awfully similar to ‘Playas Gon’ Play’s’:

“Playas, they gonna play, and haters, they gonna hate”.


How did Taylor Swift’s lawyers defend her?

Though the lawsuit regarding the lyrics had been dismissed in 2018, the decision was overturned in 2019.

In the filings, Swift’s lawyer Peter Anderson argued that “no other court” had allowed such a case to proceed to trial. The latter is from the Davis Wright Tremaine LLP firm.

Michael Fitzgerald, an LA judge, said that Swift’s Shake It Off had “similar enough” instances to Playas Gon’ Play, for the court case to proceed. He wrote at the time:

“Even though there are some noticeable differences between the works, there are also significant similarities in word usage and sequence/structure.”

Swift’s attorneys argued that the song-writing duo failed to conduct an “extrinsic test” which would determine if copyright had been the case after all. The pop idol’s lawyers added that Swift’s lyrics were phrases from the public domain.

In regards to the ongoing legal battle, Rolling Stone highlighted parts of the legal documents which read:

“Both works use versions of two short public domain phrases – ‘players gonna play’ and ‘haters gonna hate’ – that are free for everyone to use.”

Taylor Swift’s formal request to scrap the lawsuit will be held in Los Angeles on February 7.

Edited by Mason J. Schneider