The Ninth Circuit of Appeals on Monday revived a copyright lawsuit focused on the lyrics of “Shake it Off,” which could be Taylor Swift’s most recognizable song.
A three-judge panel called a 2018 conclusion in federal court premature and cited a ruling by Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes that raised questions about the ability of a judge-- skilled in law-- to rule over an artistic case, USA Today reported.
Swift was sued in September by songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler, who created the song “Playas Gon’ Play” for the girl group 3LW in 2001. The duo claimed that Swift stole their lyrics and used them in her famous hit single “Shake It Off.”
The lyrics in question are, “Players gonna play, play, play, play, play, and haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.”
A federal judge in February 2018 appeared to side with Swift’s lawyers who claimed that copyright protection would not cover the vague lyrics because “it would impermissibly monopolize the idea that players will play and haters will hate.”
“Plaintiffs’ claim to being the only ones in the world who can refer to players playing and haters hating is frivolous… Providing a copyright monopoly in the phrase would prevent others from sharing the idea that players play and haters hate,” her lawyer said.
In 2018, the feeral judge, according to the Hollywood Reporter, said, "combining two truisms about playas and haters, both well-worn notions as of 2001, is simply not enough," concluding, "In sum, the lyrics at issue — the only thing that Plaintiffs allege Defendants copied — are too brief, unoriginal, and uncreative to warrant protection under the Copyright Act."
The case will be back in court at a later time, THR reported.