A US judge ruling on a lawsuit against Taylor Swift decided to “Shake It Off,” and dismiss the case. Swift was being sued by songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler for similarities between their 2001 minor hit “Playas Gon’ Play” written for girl group 3LW and Swift’s 2014 mega hit “Shake It Off.” While the song “Playas Gon’ Play” experienced mediocre success, both songwriters have had notable careers individually, working with talent such as Justin Bieber, Backstreet Boys, Maroon 5, and Luther Vandross.
The issue at the case’s core was whether the lyrics “playas gonna play” and “haters gonna hate” were unique enough to warrant a copyright protection. Hall and Butler argued that the phrases were quintessential to the structure of their 2001 song and that Swift, in essence, had plagiarized their work.
The judge, Michael W. Fitzgerald, spoke strong words about the basis of the case, stating that Hall and Butler’s lyrics are “too brief, unoriginal, and uncreative to warrant protection under the Copyright Act.” Fitzgerald argued that the phrases “playa” and “hater” were commonplace in culture prior to 2001 and did not originate with Hall and Butler. He also called the lyrics “banal,” claiming that “actors acting in accordance with their essential nature is not at all creative” and could be compared to “runners gonna run” or “drummers gonna drum.” Hall and Butler were unhappy with decision. Their lawyer, Gerard Fox, was displeased that the judge didn’t seek out a music expert to give an opinion on the lyrics’ originality. Meanwhile, Swift will continue prepping for her Reputation Stadium Tour, which is set to kick off May 8, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona.