The Lawsuit Against Taylor Swift’s Most Iconic Song Is Headed Back To Court

PHoto: Paul Bruinooge/Getty Images.
It's hard to shake off something that keeps coming back to bite you. In 2017, songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler accused Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" of copying lyrics from their 2001 song "Playas Gon' Play." In February 2018, a judge dismissed the lawsuit, but a three-judge panel from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals just reversed the decision, and the suit is going back to court.
The original dismissal cited the shortness of the phrases in question — "playas gonna play" and "haters gonna hate" — as not original or creative enough to be protected, but Judges John Owens, Andrew Hurwitz, and Kenneth Lee disagree.
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"By concluding that, ‘for such short phrases to be protected under the Copyright Act, they must be more creative than the lyrics at issues here,’ the district court constituted itself as the final judge of the worth of an expressive work," their reversal reads. "Because the absence of originality is not established either on the face of the complaint or through the judicially noticed matters, we reverse the district court’s dismissal."
Basically, the reversal asks who died and made the original court decider of artistic merit, and says that's not enough to determine the fate of this suit, anyways.
"This is a ridiculous claim and nothing more than a money grab," Swift's lawyers previously said about the case. "The law is simple and clear. They do not have a case."
A rep for Swift did not immediately respond to Refinery29's request for comment about the reversal. The case is now on its way back to the U.S. District Court.
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