Taylor Swift Asks Court to Dismiss “Shake It Off” Copyright Lawsuit

Just weeks after a federal judge ordered Taylor Swift to stand trial over a copyright infringement lawsuit for “Shake It Off,” the singer has requested that the court toss the ruling. The claim argues that Swift’s 2014 hit lifted elements from 3LW’s 2001 song “Playas Gon’ Play.”

Rolling Stone reported on Monday that Swift filed a motion on Dec. 23, asking Judge Michael Fitzgerald to reconsider his decision.

“Both works use versions of two short public domain phrases — “players gonna play” and “haters gonna hate”— that are free for everyone to use,” the new motion states. “The presence of versions of the two short public domain statements and two other tautologies in both songs simply does not satisfy the extrinsic test. Otherwise, plaintiffs could sue everyone who writes, sings, or publicly says ‘players gonna play’ and ‘haters gonna hate’ alone with other tautologies. To permit that is unprecedented and cheats the public domain.”

Meanwhile, Gerard Fox, a lawyer representing Sean Hall and Nathan Butler, the pair of songwriters who wrote 3LW’s 2001 track, told Rolling Stone in a statement: “We feel there is no basis for reconsideration, and that this is just a music mogul and her machine trying to deny our client justice by outspending a fellow lower-income artist. Totally uncool among artists.”

The move arrives less than three weeks after Fitzgerald said there were “enough objective similarities” between the two tracks for the case to move forward.

“Even though there are some noticeable differences between the works, there are also significant similarities in word usage and sequence/structure,” the judge wrote at the time. “Although Defendants’ experts strongly refute the implication that there are substantial similarities, the Court is not inclined to overly credit their opinions here.”

Back in 2017, songwriters Hall and Butler filed the case over the lines “playas, they gonna play” and “haters, they gonna hate,” which are similar to Swift’s chorus on “Shake It Off.”

In 2018, Fitzgerald said the lines were “short phrases that lack the modicum of originality and creativity required for copyright protection.” 

A hearing on Swift’s request for reconsideration is scheduled for February 7 in Los Angeles.

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