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Taylor Swift gets song-theft action dismissed

By | Published on Wednesday 14 February 2018

Taylor Swift

A US judge has dismissed a song-theft lawsuit pursued against Taylor Swift, although the plaintiffs have been given a chance to file amended litigation.

This is the legal battle in which songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler accused Swift of ripping off a 2001 song they wrote for 3LW called ‘Playas Gon Play’ on her 2014 hit ‘Shake It Off’. In the lawsuit Hall and Butler claimed that Swift’s lyric “Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play/And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate”, was a rip off of their line “The playas gon play/Them haters gonna hate”.

Swift’s team dubbed the song-theft legal claim a “money grab” and sought to have the lawsuit dismissed. Yesterday judge Michael Fitzgerald did just that, declaring that the lyrics shared by ‘Shake It Off’ and ‘Playas Gon Play’ are “banal”. Sensible judge. Though he meant too banal to enjoy copyright protection.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fitzgerald stated: “The lynchpin of this entire case is … whether or not the lyrics ‘Playas, they gonna play/And haters, they gonna hate’ are eligible for protection under the Copyright Act”. He then mused that by 2001, “American popular culture was heavily steeped in the concepts of players, haters, and player haters”.

As a result, he concluded: “The concept of actors acting in accordance with their essential nature is not at all creative; it is banal”. Therefore, “the allegedly infringed lyrics are short phrases that lack the modicum of originality and creativity required for copyright protection”.

If Hall and Butler can make a case for ‘Shake It Off’ nabbing more from ‘Playas Gon Play’ that merely some players and some haters, they are welcome to submit new legal papers, Fitzgerald added. Though “the court is extremely skeptical that Plaintiffs will – in a manner consistent with Rule 11 – be able to rehabilitate their copyright infringement claim in an amended complaint”. But they can try, he said.