Two years ago, songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler filed a lawsuit against Taylor, alleging that she blatantly plagiarized the chorus of “Shake It Off” from their 2001 song “Playas Gon’ Play,” written for 3LW. They argued that the lyrics desribing players playing and haters hating were too similar to be a coincidence. Taylor’s lawyers argued that the phrases in question were too short to claim ownership of. In February of last year, U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald threw out the lawsuit, saying that the idea of players playing and haters hating existed long before 2001. Well, it’s back.
When Judge Fitzgerald dismissed the lawsuit, he added that combining two truisms about players and haters wasn’t a strong enough argument. Judge Fitzgerald left the door open for Sean and Nathan to return with a better argument. Rolling Stone says that nearly 21 months later, and Sean and Nathan are back with their lawsuit. A three-judge panel from the Ninth Circuit of Appeals has reinstated the lawsuit, citing a ruling from 1903 in which a Supreme Court Justice argued about common language. The three judges from the panel, Judges John Owens, Andrew Hurwitz and Kenneth Lee, say:
“…originality, as we have long recognized, is normally a question of fact… By concluding that, ‘for such short phrases to be protected under the Copyright Act, they must be more creative than the lyrics at issues here,’ the district court constituted itself as the final judge of the worth of an expressive work. Because the absence of originality is not established either on the face of the complaint or through the judicially noticed matters, we reverse the district court’s dismissal.”
They’re saying that Taylor should have been a little more creative when she sang about a player’s intention to play, play, play, play, play. And that means the case is headed back to the U.S. District Court for further proceedings. Rolling Stone reached out to Taylor’s team for a comment, but they didn’t have one.
Taylor has said that she plans to re-record all her old songs, in an attempt to get revenge on Scooter Braun for buying Big Machine and subsequently owning six albums’ worth of master recordings. She might want to start with “Shake It Off” first. That way, she can (don’t do it) shake off this lawsuit just like she did the first time. I can already hear the opening lyrics…
I re-did this song
It didn’t take too long
And it’s Scooter’s problem now, ooh ooh
It’s Scooter’s problem now.”