13 December 2022CopyrightStaff Writer

Taylor Swift ‘shakes off’ copyright case

American songwriting duo withdraw complaint | Dismissal brings five-year dispute over “Playas Gon’ Play” lyrics to a close | Judge said plaintiffs had shown “no genuine issues of triable fact”.

Two songwriters have dropped a years-long copyright dispute with singer Taylor Swift over her song “Shake it Off”.

Sean Hall and Nathan Butler, who brought the suit against Swift in 2017, have told the US District Court for the Central District of California that they will dismiss their case with prejudice.

In a joint stipulation to dismiss the case—filed yesterday, December 12—the parties agreed to bear their respective attorneys’ fees and costs. Judge Michael Fitzgerald ordered the dismissal of the suit the same day. The filing did not say whether there had been a settlement between the parties.

A trial in the case was due to start on January 17, 2023.

In 2017, Hall and Butler claimed that Swift had copied lyrics from their song “Playas Gon’ Play” performed by all-girl group 3LW in 2001.

“Playas, they gonna play / And haters, they gonna hate”, which is featured in the chorus of “Shake it Off” and Hall and Butler’s track, were the lyrics in dispute.

The California court had initially agreed with Swift that the lyrics in Hall and Butler’s song were neither protectable nor enforceable, and granted Swift’s motion to dismiss the case.

But, on appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the decision to grant summary judgment was overturned, giving the pair another chance to pursue the case.

Swift filed another motion for summary judgment in July 2021, claiming that Hall and Butler had failed to prove a “genuine dispute of material fact” and asked the court to “reconsider” the Ninth Circuit’s ruling.

“Copyright infringement requires, among other things, the copying of protected expression, and there is no genuine dispute that [the] plaintiffs’ claim of copying fails under this Circuit’s extrinsic test,” said the motion.

However, in December that year, the court denied the motion.

At the time, Fitzgerald said: “Although defendants have made a strong closing argument for a jury, they have not shown that there are no genuine issues of triable fact such that defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”

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More on this story

21 July 2021   Taylor Swift has moved for a summary judgment to throw out a lawsuit that accuses her of infringing lyrics in her chart-topping single “Shake it Off”.
13 December 2021   A California federal judge has denied Taylor Swift’s request to dismiss a copyright lawsuit that accuses the songwriter of plagiarising lyrics in her chart-topping single “Shake It Off”.