Taylor Swift files copyright lawsuit on Shake It Off: “The lyrics were written entirely by me” | Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift is the sole writer of her 2014 hit “Shake It Off,” defending herself against a lawsuit alleging she plagiarized the lyrics to girl group 3LW’s 2000 song “Playas Gon’ Play.”

“The lyrics to Shake It Off were written entirely by me,” Swift stated in an affidavit filed Monday. “Until I learned of the plaintiffs’ allegation in 2017, I had never heard of the song Playas Gon’ Play and had never heard of that song or the group 3LW.”

Playas Gon’ Play songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler filed the copyright lawsuit in 2017, citing similarities between the lines “playas gonna play” and “haters gonna hate.”

It was dismissed in 2018, with a judge commenting that the lyrics were “too mundane” to copy, but were revived by an appeals panel in 2021.

In December, a judge denied Swift’s motion to dismiss the case, citing “enough objective similarities” between the two songs for a jury to settle the matter.

“Our clients are finally getting closer to the justice they so deserve,” her lawyer Marina Bogorad said at the time. “The opinion … is particularly gratifying to her because it reinforces the idea that her creativity and unique expression cannot be abused without retaliation.”

In writing the lyrics, Swift explained in her application, she drew in part on “experiences in my life and particularly the relentless public scrutiny of my personal life, reporting of ‘clickbait,’ public manipulation and other forms of negative personal criticism that I learned that I just had to shake off and focus on my music.”

Swift started out as a country artist and became a mainstream pop star after the release of her 2012 album Red, sparking intense tabloid speculation about her personal and romantic life.

Swift continued, “With Shake It Off, I wanted to offer a comedic, empowering approach to helping people feel better about negative criticism through music, dance, and the personal independence that allows you to shake off negative criticism.”

The lyrics also drew from what she called “commonly used phrases and comments” she’s heard throughout her life, including “gamers will play” and “haters will hate,” an awareness of which stretches back to her school days.

She denied the possibility of having heard the 3LW song, which reached #81 on the US Billboard chart, in any form of media or social circle. She stated that her parents didn’t let her watch MTV’s Total Request Live until she was “about 13 years old”: The 3LW hit was released in 2000 when Swift was 11 years old.

Her mother, Andrea Swift, also filed a statement, saying she “monitored both television carefully.” [Swift] seen and the music she heard” and the shared home computer. “As a young girl, Taylor didn’t go to friends’ sleepovers because we lived on a farm until she was 10 and I always preferred friends to come over to our homes.”

In the new filing, Swift’s attorney, Peter Anderson, wrote, “Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for litigants to hope for a lucky break based on flimsy allegations that their own song has been copied. But even against this background, the plaintiffs’ allegation proves to be particularly unfounded.”

The Guardian has reached out to Hall and Butler’s legal representatives for comment.

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