Copyright lawsuit over Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’ dropped after 5 years

Players will continue to play, and haters will continue to hate.


By Lauren Huff December 12, 2022 at 07:48 PM EST

Taylor Swift has officially shaken off a lawsuit pertaining to her hit 2014 single “Shake It Off.”

According to the New York Times, a judge dismissed the case Monday, just weeks before it was set to go to trial, following a joint request by lawyers for Swift and for Sean Hall and Nathan Butler, the songwriters who had accused her of copyright infringement. The Times report notes that the “brief filing” did not give details or mention any settlement between the parties.

Representatives for Swift did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment.

The dismissal ends a five-year legal battle over “Shake It Off,” which Swift released as the first single off her album 1989. Hall and Butler, who penned “Playas Gon’ Play,” by the R&B group 3LW, filed the lawsuit against Swift in 2017, arguing that the lines “the players gonna play, play, play, play, play” and “the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate” in “Shake It Off” violated their 2000 song’s copyright. (“Playas Gon’ Play” includes the lines “Playas, they gonna play / And haters, they gonna hate.”)

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift

| Credit: Henning Kaiser/picture alliance via Getty Images

A judge dismissed the lawsuit in 2018, stating that a phrase like “haters gonna hate” is too “banal” to be protected under copyright. The judge also noted that a number of other songs, such as Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” and the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Playa Hater,” also feature similar use of such phrases.

However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the ruling a year later, sending the case back to the district court, where it was later determined that the case would go to trial. Last December, Swift’s lawyers requested that U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald reconsider his decision, asking him to once again dismiss the case in a new motion.

In court documents at the time, Swift’s attorneys argued that allowing the case to proceed would represent an “unprecedented” decision, noting that “plaintiffs admitted, and it is undisputed, that the phrases ‘players gonna play’ and ‘haters gonna hate’ are unprotected and in the public domain,” and unless the case is dismissed, “plaintiffs could sue everyone who writes, sings, or publicly says ‘players gonna play’ and ‘haters gonna hate,'” and “to permit that is unprecedented and ‘cheat[s] the public domain.'”

Swift, who recently released her 10th original studio album, Midnights, and is in the thick of planning her Eras tour, has also been busy re-recording her older albums in an attempt to own all the masters to her music.

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