Taylor Swift must face jury trial over Shake It Off copyright claims, judge rules

A case Taylor Swift once hoped was closed has made its way back in front of a judge and she now faces the prospect of a jury trial to defend her music, Yasmin Bodalbhai reports

Taylor Swift must face a jury trial over accusations she copied lyrics for her hit Shake It Off, a US judge has ruled.

District Judge Michael Fitzgerald refused Swift’s request to toss out the case brought by the songwriters for a track released by 3LW, saying a jury might eventually find that Shake It Off may have infringed the copyright of the 2001 song 'Playas Gon’ Play', Billboard reported.

Both songs feature the phrases  "players gonna play" and "haters gonna hate".

Judge Fitzgerald had previously ruled in 2018 the lyrics were too "banal" to be copyrighted.

At the time he said: "In order for such short phrases to be protected under the Copyright Act, they must be more creative than the lyrics at issue here."

The songwriters who sued Swift - Sean Hall and Nathan Butler - did not allege Swift’s song stole musical elements, the judge said, and phrases about players and haters existed in pop culture before 2001.

The judge noted songs by Notorious B.I.G, Fleetwood Mac and others that featured similar phrases.

“In short, combining two truisms about playas and haters, both well-worn notions as of 2001, is simply not enough,” the judge said in his ruling.

But the songwriters appealed the decision in federal courts and their case was upheld, meaning it was sent back to the district judge.

After it was sent back Swift tried to get a summary judgement, meaning the case would be immediately ruled she had not infringed copyright, but the judge refused.

In his latest ruling Judge Fitzgerald accepted there were "some noticeable differences" between the two songs but said there were "enough objective similarities" that he could not dismiss the case outright.

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"Although defendants’ experts strongly refute the implication that there are substantial similarities, the court is not inclined to overly credit their opinions here," the judge said.

The case was originally filed in 2017 with Butler and Hall arguing their lyrics of "playas, they gonna play" and “haters, they gonna hate” were similar to Swift's "Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play and the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate."Shake It Off was a huge hit for Swift and sat at number one in the charts for several weeks when it was released in 2014.