Taylor Swift: prosecuted for plagiarism, the singer summoned to defend “Shake It Off”

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Sued for justice by songwriters of the 2001 single “Playas Gon ‘Play” 3LW for a matter of plagiarism , the superstar Taylor Swift will be judged for the copyright of the lyrics of one of his biggest hits Shake it off . A judge declined to dismiss the case against Swift, saying the songs had ”  notable differences  ” but ”  enough  ” similarities for a trial.

Taylor Swift’s request, rejected by a judge!

A federal judge ruled Thursday (December 9) that Taylor Swift will face a jury trial on charges that she stole the lyrics to “Shake It Off” from another song that also references to “playas” and “haters”.

Indeed, it was US District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald who denied Swift’s request to dismiss the case, ruling that a jury could possibly conclude that his 2014 hit had infringed a copyright on “Playas. Gon ‘Play ”, a track released in 2001 by the group 3LW.

Although there are “a few notable differences ” between the two songs, the judge said there were ” enough objective similarities ” that he could not dismiss the case himself. The judge said that the defense of the singer, who recently celebrated her 32nd birthday, would present ”  a solid closing argument  ” for a possible jury trial, but that she would still need to face it.

As a reminder, the lawsuit against Swift was filed in 2017 by Sean Hall and Nathan Butler, the songwriters who wrote “Playas Gon ‘Play”. In the 2001 song, the line was “playas, they going play” and “haters, they going hate”; in Swift’s song she sings, ” Because the players are going to play, play, play, play, play and the enemies are going to hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. 

Separately, “Shake It Off” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September 2014 and spent four weeks atop the charts. The song ultimately spent 50 weeks on the Hot 100, tied with Swift’s “You Belong With Me” for her longest-running single.

In 2018, Justice Fitzgerald dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that Hall and Butler’s words were ”  short sentences devoid of the minimum originality and creativity required for copyright protection . ” The judge cited 13 different earlier songs with similar phrases , including “Playa Hater” by The Notorious BIG and “Man U Luv to Hate” by Sir Mix-A-Lot.

The initial decision overturned by a federal court!

A year later, the Federal Court of Appeal overturned this decision. The court said Fitzgerald threw the case too early and that “Playas Gon ‘Play” was creative enough for copyright protection. The ruling sent the case back to Judge Fitzgerald for further proceedings.

Returning to the lower court, Swift again attempted to evade the case, asking the judge to grant her so-called summary judgment . An immediate ruling that she had not infringed any copyright. On the other hand, this Thursday, Judge Fitzgerald refused.

“While there are notable differences between the works, there are also significant similarities in word use and sequence / structure, ” the judge wrote. “  Although the defendants’ experts strongly refute the implication that there are substantial similarities, the Court is not inclined to over-credit their opinions here . “, he added.

Following Thursday’s ruling, a lawyer for Swift did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, a lawyer for Hall and Butler praised the decision, saying the court ”  did the right thing “.

“  Our clients are finally getting closer to the justice they so deserve ,” said Marina Bogorad, lawyer at Gerard Fox Law PC. “ The opinion… is particularly gratifying to them because it reinforces the idea that their creativity and unique expression cannot be hijacked without retribution . “. The decision paves the way for a jury trial, which is tentatively scheduled for August 2022.

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