Taylor Swift will face a jury trial over accusations that she plagiarized lyrics for her 2014 hit Shake It Off from another song. A US judge refused Swift’s request for the case to be dismissed on the grounds that a jury could find that the song copied Playas Gon’ Play, a song released by girl group 3LW in 2001.
The Guardian has contacted representatives for the pop star for comment. District judge Michael W Fitzgerald had originally dismissed the lawsuit in 2018, saying that the lyrics were too “banal” to be copyrighted, citing 13 songs – by the likes of Fleetwood Mac & the Notorious B.I.G. that featured similar phrasing.
In response, a representative for Swift said: “These men are not the originators, or creators, of the common phrases ‘players’ or ‘haters’ or combinations of them. They did not invent these common phrases nor are they the first to use them in a song.”
They expressed their confidence that the “true writers of Shake It Off” – namely Swift and co-producers Max Martin and Shellback – “will prevail again. [Hall and Butler’s] claim is not a crusade for all creatives, it is a crusade for Mr Hall’s bank account.”
This is not the first copyright case Swift has encountered with Shake It Off. In November 2015, R&B singer Jessie Braham alleged that the song plagiarized his 2013 song Haters Gonna Hate. He demanded $42m in damages from Swift and distributor Sony, but his lawsuit was dismissed based on a lack of factual evidence.
A date for the new trial has yet to be announced. Its outcome could become a reputational issue for Swift, who has made a point of campaigning for artists’ rights in recent years and for pursuing parties who she believes have infringed her copyright.