5 January 2018Copyright

Taylor Swift asks to shake off copyright lawsuit

Lawyers for music artist Taylor Swift have submitted a motion to dismiss a copyright infringement claim relating to her award-winning hit song “Shake it Off”.

The singer-songwriter’s lawyers asked the US District Court for the Central District of California to dismiss the claim on Wednesday, January 3.

The complaint was instigated by songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler in September 2017. They claimed that Swift’s number one hit, released in 2014, contains copied lyrics and a substantially similar music sequence to a compilation of their own.

Hall and Butler have now conceded that there are no musical similarities and base the entire infringement claim on the lyrics, according to Swift’s motion. The motion claims that the phrases in question are “not protected expression”.

The claim alleged that the infringed copyrighted material accounted for approximately 20% of “Shake it Off”. Hall and Butler’s song “Players Gon’ Play” was written in 2001 and includes the phrases “playas, they gonna play/And haters, they gonna hate”.

Swift’s track includes the lyrics “cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play/And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate”. Hall and Butler claimed that “Playas Gon’ Play” could not be used without a licence, as is “customary standard practice in the music industry”.

The motion to dismiss reads that “it is well established that copyright does not protect short phrases such as ‘playas, they gonna play and haters, they gonna hate’”. Therefore, it continues, the “plaintiffs’ claim to being the only ones in the world who can refer to players playing and haters hating is frivolous”.

Speaking to WIPR, Swift’s representative Lauren Greene, associate at litigation-focused firm Gerard Fox Law, said: “Plaintiffs are in the process of reviewing the defendants’ motion and the arguments raised therein. We will respond to the motion at the appropriate time.”

This is not the first time that Swift, whose net worth is  estimated at $280 million, has found herself in court over alleged copyright infringement relating to this tune.

In November 2015 WIPR reported that the same Californian court dismissed a $42 million copyright claim, filed by singer Jesse Braham, relating to “Shake it Off”. Braham had claimed the lyrics to Swift’s track were too similar to his song, “Haters Gone Hate”.

Earlier in 2015 WIPR reported that Swift’s attempt to register common phrases such as ‘This sick beat’ were being described as an “attack on freedom of speech” by musician Ben Norton. Swift begun another round of trademark applications for phrases such as ‘Look what you made me do’ in September 2017, WIPR reported.

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More on this story

14 February 2018   The US District Court for the Central District of California has dismissed a copyright claim brought against singer Taylor Swift by songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler.