A lawsuit filed against Taylor Swift in 2017 stated she lifted the lyrics “players gonna play” and “haters gonna hate” for her 2014 hit song “Shake It Off” from an old 3LW song called, “Playas Gon’ Play.” After a U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald allowed the case to proceed to trial, Taylor Swift has appealed to dismiss the case.
Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald refused to toss the case in the first place because “it was too close to call” therefore had to be decided upon by a jury. “Even though there are some noticeable differences between the works, there are also significant similarities in word usage and sequence/structure,” said Judge Fitzgerald regarding the similarities in Shake It Off by Taylor Swift and Playas Gon’ Play by 3LW.
Swift’s attorney, Peter Anderson had appealed by saying, “Plaintiffs could sue everyone who writes, sings, or publicly says ‘players gonna play’ and ‘haters gonna hate,” referencing the common use of such a phrase in the public domain.
In the new appeal filing, Anderson said, “It is essential to distinguish between the protected and unprotected material in a plaintiff’s work,” adding that the Judge had a clear error in his analysis of both the song lyrics, arguing that he, therefore, failed to apply copyright laws properly.
The filing also included, “Doing so here leaves only this similarity: both works use versions of two short public domain phrases – ‘players gonna play’ and ‘haters gonna hate’ – that are free for everyone to use, and two other but different tautologies that plaintiffs claim share the same underlying general idea or concept. The presence of versions of the two short public domain statements and two other tautologies in both songs … simply does not satisfy the extrinsic test.”
The two plaintiffs Sean Hall and Nathan Butler, who brought the case against Taylor Swift, are both credited with songwriting for the original ‘Playas Gon’ Play’ song. Their own statement regarding the appeal by their attorney Marina Bogorad of the firm Gerard Fox Law said, “All it asks is for the court to reverse itself because Swift is unhappy with the ruling. She raised these argument before, and they were rejected. The precedent is clear that such motions are routinely denied because the rules are not designed to give an unhappy litigant one additional chance to sway the judge. We are confident the Court will adhere to this precedent here.”