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Taylor Swift Song Doesn't Violate Copyright

By Ceylan Pumphrey, Esq. | Last updated on

As an artist or inventor, it's important to be able to protect your work. And if you feel that someone has stolen your work, you want the credit and your share of the profits. That's why songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler filed a lawsuit against Taylor Swift. They claimed that some lyrics in her song "Shake It Off" were the result of copyright infringement. But, a California federal judge didn't agree with them and dismissed their copyright lawsuit against Swift.

What Copyrighted Material Was Allegedly Stolen?

Hall and Butler claimed that Swift had taken the verse "Players gonna play ... and haters gonna hate" from their song titled "Playas Gon' Play." While conceding that ideas of haters hating and players playing was nothing new when they wrote their song in 2001, they claimed that putting the ideas together into a catchy phrase was original at the time.

In opposition, Swift's legal team argued that the phrase is "within public domain and can be used freely since it is not protected expression." Swift's legal team also provided a list of songs released before 2001 that mentioned haters hating and players playing.

The case basically came down to whether the lyrics were original and creative enough to be eligible for protection under the Copyright Act. The judge in the case decided that "combining two truisms about playas and haters ... is simply not enough" for protection under the Act, and dismissed the lawsuit. And while the judge provided Hall and Butler an opportunity to amend their lawsuit, his order discouraged them to file an amended complaint.

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