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Taylor Swift says “Shake It Off” lyrics were “written entirely by me” in new court filing

The songwriters of 3LW’s 2001 song “Playas Gon’ Play” have sued Swift, claiming “Shake It Off” plagiarizes their track.

August 09, 2022
Taylor Swift says “Shake It Off” lyrics were “written entirely by me” in new court filing Taylor Swift. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images  

Taylor Swift has made a new filing in an ongoing lyric plagiarism lawsuit brought by Sean Hall and Nathan Butler, the songwriters of the 2001 song "Playas Gon' Play" performed by 3LW. Hall and Butler allege that Swift's 2014 song "Shake It Off" copies lines from "Playas Gon' Play."

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The new documents were first reported by The Guardian and viewed by The FADER. In her sworn declaration, Swift says that the "Shake It Off" lyrics "were written entirely by me.” The lines in question, "playas gon' play" and "haters gonna hate," appear in both "Shake It Off" and 3LW's "Playas Gon' Play."

The lawsuit was filed in 2017. It was dismissed the following year, though an appeals panel brought it back in 2021. The case moved to a jury trial in December when U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald decided that there were "objective similarities" between the two songs.

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Swift said in her filing that "Shake It Off" was inspired by “experiences in my life and, in particular, unrelenting public scrutiny of my personal life, ‘clickbait’ reporting, public manipulation, and other forms of negative personal criticism which I learned I just needed to shake off and focus on my music.” The lyrics were inspired by “commonly used phrases and comments heard,” including the lyrics at the center of the suit.

Swift's declaration continued: "I also recall hearing similar player and hater phrases in many songs, films, and other works prior to 'Shake It Off.' For example, I was present at the 2013 Country Music Awards and heard Eric Church perform his song 'The Outsiders,' which includes the lyric “the player’s gonna play and a haters gonna hate.”

“Until learning about Plaintiffs’ claim in 2017," Swift claimed, "I had never heard the song 'Playas Gon’ Play' and had never heard of that song or the group 3LW.” In the filing, Taylor's mother Andrea Swift said that her daughter would likely not have been able to hear the song as a child because her computer use and music consumption were carefully monitored, and she did not attend sleepovers.

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Swift's attorney Peter Anderson derided the lawsuit in the motion. “It is, unfortunately, not unusual for a hit song to be met by litigants hoping for a windfall based on tenuous claims that their own song was copied. But even against that background, Plaintiffs’ claim sticks out as particularly baseless.”

The FADER has reached out to Taylor Swift's representatives for comment.

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Taylor Swift says “Shake It Off” lyrics were “written entirely by me” in new court filing