Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Taylor Swift will have to face trial regarding her 2014 hit Shake it off‘s alleged similarities to 3LW’s 2000 song Playas Gon’ Play.
After Sean Hall and Nate Butler, songwriters who penned the 2000 tune Playas Gon’ Play for the Kiely Williams, Naturi Naughton, and Adrienne Bailon-fronted girl group 3LW, originally alleged that Swift, Max Martin, and Shellback copied lyrics from their single during the creation of Swift’s 1989 smash, court documents obtained Friday by EW indicate that U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald denied the defendants’ motion for a summary judgment.
As reported by Entertainment Weekly, the case will go to trial at an undetermined future date. The district court had previously dismissed the plaintiffs’ complaint, only to be reversed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals “on the ground that the lyrics, as alleged in the complaint, ‘plausibly alleged originality.'”
The plaintiffs first filed their copyright infringement complaint on September 18, 2017. The defendants moved to dismiss the case on January 3, 2018, noting that “the disputed lyrics lacked originality to enjoy copyright protection.” After hearing oral arguments from both sides, the court dismissed the case.
The case cited similarities in both songs’ lyrics and structure, particularly the sequence of phrases in 3LW’s song such as playas, they gon’ play (“’cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play” in Swift’s tune) followed by “and haters they gonna hate” (“and haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate” in Shake It Off).
Though the plaintiffs allege that their lyrics bear similarities to Swift’s, the song is far from the only recording to reference players playing and/or haters hating, notably 1997’s Playa Hater by The Notorious B.I.G. and 1977’s Dreams by Fleetwood Mac.
In 2015, singer Jessie Braham said that Swift, Martin, and Shellback used a “22-word phrase” from his 2013 single Haters Gone Hate, which he alleged equated to “92 percent of the lyrics used” in Swift’s Shake It Off. He requested $42 million in damages and a writing credit on the song. That case was dismissed.
Playas Gon’ Play was dropped as part of 3LW’s self-titled debut album in 2000, despite the song not being serviced as a single until April 2001. The recording reached No. 81 on the U.S. charts, and has been touted as one of the greatest girl group singles of all time by industry experts.
Swift’s Shake It Off has sold roughly 9 million units to date after debuting atop the Billboard Hot 100 upon its initial release, making it one of her most successful songs to date.
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