Swift’s case involved only words, not music, and drew commentary from legal experts over how such questions apply to lyrics.
The Cultural Impact of Taylor Swift’s Music
The lawsuit was filed by Sean Hall and Nathan Butler, the songwriters behind “Playas Gon’ Play,” a 2000 track by the R&B group 3LW that comprises the lines “Playas, they gonna play/And haters, they gonna hate.” They accused Swift of using those lines without permission or credit on “Shake It Off,” which was released in 2014 and have become one in every of Swift’s defining hits, notching 4 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
“Shake It Off,” written by Swift and the producers Max Martin and Shellback — who were also defendants within the case, together with the record firms and music publishers related to the track — includes a chorus that her fans can chant by heart:
’Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
Shake it off, shake it off
Five months after the case was filed, it was dismissed by a judge who said that the lyrics in query were “short phrases that lack the modicum of originality and creativity required for copyright protection.” That judge, Michael W. Fitzgerald of the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, opined further in regards to the lyrical description of players playing and haters hating.
“The concept of actors acting in accordance with their essential nature isn’t in any respect creative,” Judge Fitzgerald wrote. “It’s banal.”
The judge also noted the preponderance of comparable phrases in earlier pop songs, like Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” (“Players only love you once they’re playing”) and the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Playa Hater” (“There are two kinds of individuals on this planet today/We have now the playas, and we’ve got the playa haters”).