A pair of songwriters who say Taylor Swift stole the lyrics to ‘Shake It Off’ have hit back at the superstar’s renewed efforts to evade the affair, saying she has no right to ‘rehash old arguments simply because she is “unhappy” that a judge sent the case to trial.
After a federal judge ruled in December that Swift should stand trial for claiming she deleted lyrics from the 2001 song “Playas Gon’ Play,” her lawyers quickly asked the judge to reconsider her own decision – a rare step that judges only take if they are clearly wrong.
Swift’s attorneys say the decision was “unprecedented” and potentially harmful to other artists, but in a response filed Friday, Jan. 14, attorneys for “Playas” songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler said that there was “no conceivable procedural vehicle” for requesting such a rare redo.
“The rules simply do not provide defendants with a means to rehash old arguments and are not intended to give a disgruntled litigant an additional chance to sway the judge,” wrote Marina Bogorad of Gerard Fox Law, representing the duo.
Notably, the new filing also criticized Swift’s lawyers for citing media coverage that “lamented” the court’s decision against the singer, saying they had no legal standing and the judge shouldn’t even have them. consider.
“Summary judgment decisions are not made by the court of public opinion, and that court should not be swayed by its fickle nature,” Bogorad wrote for Hall and Butler. “The defendants cite no basis for their truly unprecedented attempt to inject public debate into the court’s analysis.”
Hall and Butler sued Swift for copyright infringement in 2017, citing similarities between the lyrics of her 2014 hit and their “Playas Gon’ Play,” which was released by the band 3LW. Their line was “playas, they gon’ play” and “hate, they gon’ hate”; in Swift’s track, she sings, “Because the players will play, play, play, play, play and the haters will hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.”
“Shake It Off” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September 2014 and spent four weeks atop the chart. The song eventually spent 50 weeks on the Hot 100, tied with Swift’s “You Belong With Me” for its longest single.
In early December, U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald denied Swift’s request to dismiss Hall and Butler’s case. Saying there were both “notable differences” but also “objective similarities”, the judge said the case was too close to call and should therefore be decided by a jury of Swift’s peers.
Two weeks later, Swift’s lawyers argued the ruling was clearly wrong and urged Judge Fitzgerald to issue a rare reversal ruling. They said the words of “players” and “haters” were far too simple for Hall and Butler to sue Swift, and warned that “no other court” had ever allowed such a case to go to trial.
“Plaintiffs could sue anyone who publicly writes, sings or says ‘players gonna play’ and ‘haters gonna hate,'” Swift’s attorney said, Peter Anderson of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, was writing at the time. “Allowing this is unprecedented and deceives the public domain.”
In Friday’s rebuttal, attorneys for Hall and Butler said such an argument was not only procedurally improper, but also legally flawed. They said the copyright precedent clearly allowed them to sue Swift for copying the so-called selection and arrangement of their lyrical choices, even if certain individual aspects of their lyrics are unprotected.
“Of the myriad choices available to assemble a chorus expressing the basic idea that people will do what they do while the protagonist must stay true to himself, the defendants decided to make all the choices of the plaintiffs,” Bogorad wrote.
Judge Fitzgerald will weigh both arguments and issue a decision in the coming weeks. If he refuses to reconsider – the most likely outcome – a trial is tentatively scheduled for August.
Swift’s attorneys did not respond to request for comment.