Back in 2017, Taylor Swift received a lawsuit over her 2014 chart-topping hit “Shake It Off.” The suit, which was filed by Sean Hall and Nathan Butler, was for copyright infringement towards “Playas Gon’ Play,” a 2001 song by JLW that the pair wrote. A year after Hall and Butler filed the lawsuit, a judge dismissed their case on the grounds that their lyrics were no more than “short phrases that lack the modicum of originality and creativity required for copyright protection.” However, in 2019, a federal appeals court overturned that ruling, and despite another attempt to have the case thrown out, U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald ruled that the matter will indeed go to trial.
According to Billboard, Judge Fitzgerald noted that while there are some differences between “Shake It Off” and “Playas Gon’ Play,” there are also enough similarities that would require the matter to be decided by a jury. “Even though there are some noticeable differences between the works, there are also significant similarities in word usage and sequence/structure,” Judge Fitzgerald wrote. “Although Defendants’ experts strongly refute the implication that there are substantial similarities, the Court is not inclined to overly credit their opinions here.” Judge Fitzgerald made this decision despite noting that Swift’s team made “persuasive arguments” to have the case thrown out, but unfortunately it was not enough.
“Shake It Off” is the lead single from Swift’s 2014 album 1989. It debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and proceeded to spend 50 weeks on the singles chart which is tied with “You Belong With Me” for the longest-charting single of Swift’s career.