A California judge has ruled that singer Taylor Swift must face a lawsuit from songwriters who say the Grammy-winning singer plagiarised their lyrics in her 2014 smash single "Shake It Off." Swift's motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging she copied wording from R&B girl group 3LW's 2014 song "Playas Gon' Play" was denied by US District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald on Thursday.
Fitzgerald decided the songs had "some noticeable differences" but "enough objective similarities" that the issue should be heard by a jury.
“Although Defendants have made a strong closing argument for a jury, they have not shown that there are no genuine issues of triable fact,” the judge wrote.
A spokeswoman for Swift had no comment on Friday. In 2017, her representatives had called the songwriters’ claim of copyright infringement “ridiculous” and “nothing more than a money grab.”
In “Shake It Off,” Swift sings: “the players gonna play, play, play, play, play, and the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.”
“Playas Gon’ Play,” written by Sean Hall and Nathan Butler, included the phrases “players, they gonna play, and haters, they gonna hate.”
The use of 'playas' or players with 'hatas' or haters in their song, according to Hall and Butler, was unique. The couple is seeking undisclosed monetary damages, according to a report in Indian Express.
'Playas Gon' Play' was a minor hit for 3LW. Hall has subsequently written and produced songs for such artists like Justin Bieber and Maroon 5, while Butler has worked with acts including Backstreet Boys and Luther Vandross.
Swift's 'Shake It Off' is the biggest-selling single of her career, topping the US charts and reaching number two in the UK (where it was held off the top spot by Meghan Trainor's 'All About That Bass').
Lawyers for Hall and Butler welcomed the decision, saying the court "did the right thing". Swift's team declined to comment on the event.
Their case had been dismissed in 2018, but the two appealed, and the case was reinstated. A date for the trial has yet to be announced.