Taylor Swift filed a statement yesterday (August 8) regarding a 2017 lawsuit alleging she stole the lyrics to “Shake It Off” from 3LW’s 2001 song “Playas Gon’ Play,” as Billboard first reported. Swift denied the allegation, stating, “The lyrics to ‘Shake It Off’ were written entirely by me.” In her affidavit, Swift said that until she learned of 3LW’s claim in 2017, she had never heard of “Playas Gon’ Play” or the band.
In the motion, Swift claims she had heard the disputed phrase, “haters gon’ hate” in “many songs, movies and other works,” before penning her chart-topping single in 2017. Swift said that she even owned an Urban Outfitters t-shirt with the phrase printed on it that she wore during a live performance in 2013:
In writing the lyrics, I was partly inspired by the experiences of my life and, in particular, the relentless public scrutiny of my personal life, “clickbait” reporting, public manipulation and other forms of personal criticism. negative things that I learned I just had to get rid of and focus on my music. With “Shake It Off”, I wanted to offer a comedic and uplifting approach to help people feel better about negative reviews through music, dance and personal independence to let go of negative reviews. .
The lyrics to “Shake It Off” also draw inspiration from commonly used phrases and comments throughout my life. Prior to writing “Shake It Off”, I had heard the phrases “players gonna play” and “enemies gonna hate” said countless times to convey the idea that negativity can or should be ignored. I remember hearing phrases about gamer play and hating enemies said together by other kids while they were in school in Wyomissing Hills and high school in Hendersonville. These phrases sounded like other commonly used sayings like “don’t hate the playa, hate the game”, “take a chill pill”, and “say it, don’t spray it”. I took inspiration from these commonly used phrases from gamers and haters to create the lyrics “Because gamers gon’ play, play, play, play, play / And the haters gon’ hate, hate, hate, hate.”
I also remember hearing similar phrases from gamers and haters in many songs, movies, and other works before “Shake It Off.” For example, I was in attendance at the 2013 Country Music Awards and heard Eric Church perform his song “The Outsiders”, which includes the lyrics “player gon’ play and haters gon’ hate”.
Taylor’s mother, Andrea Swift, supported her daughter in her own statement, per Forkwriting that she “watched both television carefully [Taylor] watched and the music she heard. Andrea Swift went on to explain that the family had a shared computer, and “Taylor didn’t go to sleepovers at friends’ houses when she was young because we lived on a farm until we were 10. and I have always preferred that friends come to my house. our house.”
The songwriters responsible for filing the petition, Sean Hall and Nathan Butler, originally filed in 2017, but the petition was denied by U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald in February 2018, who said, “The lyrics allegedly infringed are short sentences that are missing. the minimum originality and creativity required for copyright protection. However, a year later, a federal appeals court overturned the ruling, saying the lyrics to “Playas Gon’ Play” were, in fact, creative enough to warrant copyright protection.
In December 2021, Judge Fitzgerald denied Swift’s request to dismiss the case, saying there were “sufficient objective similarities” between the songs to require a jury decision.
“It is unfortunately not unusual for a hit song to encounter litigants hoping for a windfall based on tenuous claims that their own song has been copied,” Swift’s attorney Peter Anderson wrote in the new petition. . “But even in this context, the plaintiffs’ claim stands out as particularly unfounded.”
This isn’t the first time Swift has been accused of not writing her own music. You can revisit the Swift songwriting kerfuffle between her and Damon Albarn that kicked off 2022 here.
Read Swift’s full statement via Scribd.