Taylor Swift copyright lawsuit could go to trial, according to judge’s rules

A federal judge on Thursday dismissed a request by Taylor Swift to dismiss a copyright infringement claim accusing her of stealing the lyrics to her 2014 hit song “Shake It Off” and ordered that the case be judged.

The lawsuit was filed by Sean Hall and Nathan Butler, the authors of the 2001 song “Playas Gon ‘Play” by R&B group 3LW. A lawsuit would verify whether portions of Ms. Swift’s song, including versions of the phrases “players will play” and “enemies will hate”, are similar enough to the previous song to meet the legal threshold for copyright infringement. ‘author.

Judge Michael Fitzgerald of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Thursday dismissed Ms Swift’s summary judgment request. The case will be judged unless an agreement is reached.

In the ruling, Justice Fitzgerald said Ms Swift’s legal team made “a strong closing argument” but failed to show that the issues in the case could not be resolved by a jury.

Other defendants in the case include producers Max Martin and Shellback; the music publishers Sony and Kobalt; Big Machine label group; and Universal Music Group.

Lawyers for Ms Swift and the other defendants did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

Marina Bogorad, lawyer for songwriters, said in an email: “Our clients are extremely satisfied with this decision, not least because it reinforces the idea that their unique personal expression based on a deeply rooted cultural heritage cannot to simply be ripped off without attribution. “

The songwriters first filed a lawsuit against Ms Swift in September 2017. Judge Fitzgerald dismissed the case in 2018, but she was referred to her court by the United States Court of Appeals for the ninth. circuit.

The lyrics examined in Ms. Swift’s song include “Because the gamers will play, play, play, play, play / And the enemies will hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.” These lines are tested against “Playas, they gon ‘play / And haters, they going hate,” from the song by 3LW, an all-female R&B trio popular in the early 2000s.

In his original 2018 ruling, the judge said the lyrics under debate were “too short, unoriginal and uncreative” to be protected under copyright law.

“In the early 2000s, popular culture was sufficiently imbued with the concepts of players and haters to make the phrases ‘playas … going play’ or ‘haters … going hate’ stand on their own, no more creative. that “the runners will run.” “the drummers will drummer” or “the swimmers will swim,” ”he wrote in his February 2018 order.

George Howard, professor of music business management at Berklee College of Music, called the music copyright testing system imperfect and said that in many cases labels and publishers would settle. they thought they could lose a lawsuit.

Several high-profile cases have tested music copyright standards in court in recent years, sometimes raising concerns that artists face a flood of lawsuits.

After a federal jury concluded that Robin Thicke’s 2013 song “Blurred Lines” copied elements from Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up”, musicians and record labels warned the precedent could have a deterrent effect on artists.

But in 2020, some felt the tide was changing after Led Zeppelin won it in a copyright lawsuit in October of that year. Months earlier, a federal judge had overturned an earlier ruling that Katy Perry’s hit song “Dark Horse” infringed the copyright of a Christian rap song.

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