Music News

Taylor Swift “Shake It Off” copyright battle may head to trial

Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Taylor Swift wasn’t able to shake off an upcoming court date after all.

Billboard reports that on Tuesday, a federal judge refused Taylor’s request to toss out a case in which she’s accused of stealing the lyrics to her 2014 number-one hit “Shake It Off” from the 2001 song “Playas Gon’ Play,” by the girl group 3LW.

U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald ruled that instead, a jury may be the ones to determine whether or not “Shake It Off” infringed on “Playas Gon’ Play’s” copyright.  The judge ruled that there were “enough objective similarities” between the two songs that he couldn’t dismiss the case, and ruled that a jury trial was needed to determine the outcome.

The case was first filed in 2017 by the two men who wrote “Playas Gon’ Play.” They claimed that Taylor’s song, in which she sings, “‘Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play and the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate” was too similar to the lines in their song, which go “playas, they gonna play” and “haters, they gonna hate.”

Fitzgerald originally dismissed the lawsuit in 2018, saying that those phrases were used in many other songs, and so “lacked the…originality and creativity required for copyright protection.” But in 2019, a federal appeals court reversed the ruling and sent the case back to Fitzgerald.

Taylor then asked Fitzgerald to grant her summary judgement — meaning she asked him to rule immediately that she hadn’t done anything wrong — but Fitzgerald declined. “Even though there are some noticeable differences between the works, there are also significant similarities in word usage and sequence/structure,” he wrote.

But while the stage is now set for a jury trial, no date has been sent, and an out-of-court settlement is always a possibility.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.