Taylor Swift continues to deny a claim that she stole lyrics for her 2014 hit “Shake It Off” from the 2000 song “Playas Gon’ Play” by girl group 3LW.
Sean Hall and Nathan Butler, who wrote the 2000 song, filed a copyright lawsuit in 2017, saying Swift’s lyrics, “Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play/And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate,” infringed on “Playas Gon’ Play,” which includes the lines, “The playas gon’ play/Them haters gonna hate” and “Playas, they gonna play/And haters, they gonna hate.”
A judge dismissed the suit in 2018 commenting that the lyrics were “too banal” to be stolen but an appeal panel brought the case back in 2019.
Swift requested to dismiss the case but a judge refused on Dec. 9 citing the songs had “enough objective similarities.”
On Monday, Swift said in a declaration that the lyrics of the song “were written entirely by me.”
“Until learning about Plaintiffs’ claim in 2017, I had never heard the song ‘Playas Gon’ Play’ and had never heard of that song or the group 3LW,” she said in the court filling.
Swift said her parents did not allow her to watch MTV’s “Total Request Live” until she was around 13 years old and the song first appeared on the self-titled album when she was 10.
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“I do not recall listening to any specific radio stations during that time, but when I listened to radio it was generally country music. I did not watch the MTV show ‘TRL,’ and I did not go to clubs during this time,” Swift said. “The lyrics to ‘Shake It Off ‘also draw from commonly used phrases and comments heard throughout my life. Prior to writing ‘Shake It Off’ I had heard the phrases ‘players gonna play’ and ‘haters gonna hate’ uttered countless times.”
USA TODAY has reached out to Hall and Butler’s lawyers for comment.
Rather than stealing from the 3LW song, Swift said she took lyrical inspiration from her experiences with “unrelenting public scrutiny of my personal life, ‘clickbait’ reporting, public manipulation, and other forms of negative personal criticism.”
“I just needed to shake off and focus on my music,” Swift wrote. “With ‘Shake It Off,’ I wanted to provide a comedic, empowering approach to helping people feel better about negative criticism through music, dance, and the personal independence enabling one to just shake off the negative criticism.”
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Swift is no stranger to copyright claims related to “Shake It Off.” In 2014, another U.S. District Court judge rejected a different “Shake It Off” lawsuit in which writer Jesse Braham of 2013’s “Haters Gonna Hate” claimed Swift stole his lyrics and sought $42 million in damages.
Braham’s lawsuit, in which he acted as his own attorney, was handwritten in part, contained blank pages, grammar errors and misspellings, and clearly was not produced by a professional. U.S. District Judge Gail Standish noticed, in a playful way.
“As currently drafted, the Complaint has a blank space — one that requires Braham to do more than write his name. And, upon consideration of the Court’s explanation in Part II, Braham may discover that mere pleading BandAids will not fix the bullet holes in his case. At least for the moment, Defendants have shaken off this lawsuit,” Standish concluded.
Contributing: Sara M Moniuszko
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism