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Songwriters can go forward with Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’ copyright lawsuit, judge rules

A Los Angeles federal court judge has ruled that two songwriters alleging Taylor Swift took lyrics for her “Shake It Off” may have a case.

Though the case was dismissed in 2018, a three-judge panel from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the lawsuit in October 2019. And this week, U.S. District Court judge Michael W. Fitzgerald ruled the songwriters have sufficiently alleged similarity between Swift’s 2014 hit and a previous song and can move forward with the lawsuit.

The documents add that Swift and her team’s “argument fails” because “the Court cannot determine at this stage that the lyrics are not substantially similar.”

The documents state that Swift and her team need to file a response by Sept. 21.

The original lawsuit, filed by Sean Hall and Nathan Butler claimed Swift’s 2014 “Shake It Off” lyrics, “Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play/And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate,” infringed on Hall’s 2001 song. “Playas Gon’ Play” includes the lines, “The playas gon’ play/Them haters gonna hate” and “Playas, they gonna play/And haters, they gonna hate.”

Swift is no stranger to copyright claims related to “Shake It Off.” In 2014, another U.S. District Court judge rejected a different “Shake It Off” lawsuit in which writer Jesse Braham of 2013’s “Haters Gonna Hate” claimed Swift stole his lyrics and sought $42 million in damages.

Braham’s lawsuit, in which he acted as his own attorney, was handwritten in part, contained blank pages, grammar errors and misspellings, and clearly was not produced by a professional. U.S. District Judge Gail Standish noticed, in a playful way.

“As currently drafted, the Complaint has a blank space — one that requires Braham to do more than write his name. And, upon consideration of the Court’s explanation in Part II, Braham may discover that mere pleading BandAids will not fix the bullet holes in his case. At least for the moment, Defendants have shaken off this lawsuit,” Standish concluded.

Contributing: Bill Keveney, Maria Puente

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Taylor Swift: ‘Shake It Off’ lawsuit can proceed, judge rules


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