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Songwriters can proceed with case against Taylor Swift for "Shake It Off," says judge

CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images

A lawsuit alleging that Taylor Swift took lyrics from another song for her hit “Shake It Off” was dismissed in 2018, but was reinstated in late 2019.  Now, USA Today reports that this week, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that the suit can proceed, because the songwriters accusing Taylor might actually have a case.

U.S. District Court judge Michael W. Fitzgerald ruled that there is enough “alleged similarity” between “Shake It Off” and the song by the songwriters who brought the case: Sean Hall and Nathan Butler

The song they claim Taylor infringed upon is 2001’s 3LW hit “Playas Gon’ Play,” in which the group sings “The playas gon’ play/Them haters gonna hate” and “Playas, they gonna play/And haters, they gonna hate.”

According to USA Today, Fitzgerald’s ruling notes, “The Court cannot determine at this stage that the lyrics are not substantially similar.”

Taylor and her team must now file a response by September 21.

As USA Today notes, another suit over the same song was rejected by a U.S. District Court Judge in 2014.  In that case, songwriter Jesse Braham was seeking $42 million in damages because he claimed Taylor infringed upon his 2013 song, “Haters Gonna Hate.” 

The judge dismissed that suit while quoting Taylor’s song lyrics, including “Bad Blood.”

“Upon consideration of the Court’s explanation…Braham may discover that mere pleading BandAids will not fix the bullet holes in his case,” Judge Gail Standish wrote.

By Andrea Dresdale
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