A California judge has thrown out a copyright lawsuit filed against Taylor Swift. Songwriting duo Sean Hall and Nathan Butler alleged that Swift stole lyrics from their 2000 song Playas Gon’ Play, written for the US girl group 3LW, for her 2014 hit Shake It Off.
The 3LW hit includes the lyrics, “Playas, they gonna play / And haters, they gonna hate”. The chorus to Swift’s single features the lines, “‘Cause the players gonna play, play, play / And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.”
The judge, Michael Fitzgerald, granted Swift’s motion to dismiss the action. However, the plaintiffs have until 26 February to amend their complaint.
Fitzgerald poured cold water on both Hall and Butler’s claims, and the ingenuity of either artist’s lyrics.
He said, “by 2001, American popular culture was heavily steeped in the concepts of players, haters and player-haters ... The concept of actors acting in accordance with their essential nature is not at all creative; it is banal. The alleged infringed lyrics are short phrases that lack the modicum of originality and creativity required for copyright protection.”
A spokesperson for Swift previously called Hall and Butler’s suit a “ridiculous claim and nothing more than a money grab”. They added, “The law is simple and clear. They do not have a case.”
This is not the first time Swift has faced allegations of copyright infringement for the song Shake It Off. In 2015, R&B artist Jesse Graham issued a $42m lawsuit against Swift, claiming that her single stole the lyrics from his 2013 song Haters Gone Hate.
US district court judge Gail Standish threw out the suit, invoking lyrics from a variety of Swift’s best-known songs. “At present, the court is not saying that Braham can never, ever, ever get his case back in court. But, for now, we have got problems, and the court is not sure Braham can solve them,” she wrote.