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Taylor Swift files in ‘Shake It Off’ plagiarism lawsuit stating that the lyrics were ‘written entirely by me’

Taylor Swift has filed a declaration to the judge in the Shake It Off plagiarism lawsuit to say that she had never heard the song she’s accused of lifting, “Playas Gon’ Play”, until she was made aware of legal action.

“The lyrics to ‘Shake It Off’ were entirely written by me”, Swift said in paperwork filed in response to the allegation from two songwriters from the band 3LW. They have said that Swift’s 2014 hit infringed upon a single from the group that peaked at No. 81 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2001.

In a filing first reported on by Billboard, Swift wrote: “Until learning about Plaintiffs’ claim in 2017, I had never heard the song ‘Playas Gon’ Play’ and had never heard of that song or the group 3LW.”

She added that she would have had little opportunity to hear it during its brief chart run because her parents “did not permit me to watch (MTV’s hit countdown show) TRL until I was about 13 years old.”

(Getty Images)

Her mother, Andrea Swift, also filed a statement saying that she “carefully monitored both the television [Swift] watched and the music she heard” as well as the shared home computer.

She added: “Taylor did not attend sleepovers at friends’ houses as a young girl because we lived on a farm until she was 10 years old and I always preferred having friends come over to our home.”

She also argued that any similar phrasing is a result of terminology being used as part of everyday language, which was part of the vernacular before Sean Hall and Nathan Butler wrote “Playas Gon’ Play”.

Continuing the filing, the Pennsylvania-born star wrote: “I recall hearing phrases about players play and haters hate stated together by other children while attending school in Wyomissing Hills, and in high school in Hendersonville.

She added: “These phrases were akin to other commonly used sayings like ‘don’t hate the playa, hate the game,’ ‘take a chill pill,’ and ‘say it, don’t spray it.’ … I was struck by messages that people prone to doing something will do it, and the best way to overcome it is to shrug it off and keep living.”

Swift also noted that the phrasing was common, and that she had worn a T-shirt bearing the words “haters gonna hate” at a 2013 concert.

The songs don’t appear to have anything in common, except the core contested lines.

The 3LW tune uses the lyrics: “Playas, they gonna play / And haters, they gonna hate,” while Swift’s track uses the lines “‘Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play / And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.”

It has also been pointed out that the contested lyrics, or close variations on them, have appeared in a number of 21st century songs, including Eric Church’s 2014 ‘The Outsiders’; BTS’ 2017 ‘Mic Drop’; and the Notorious B.I.G’s 1997 ‘Playa Hata’.

(Getty Images)

In an initial dismissal of the case, federal judge Michael Fitzgerald wrote the lyrics were “too brief, unoriginal and uncreative” to be protected.

He added: “In the early 2000s, popular culture was adequately suffused with the concepts of players and haters to render the phrases ‘playas … gonna play’ or ‘haters … gonna hate’ standing on their own, no more creative than ‘runners gonna run,’ ‘drummers gonna drum,’ or ‘swimmers gonna swim’.”

Subsequently, on having the case returned to him by a higher court, the judge said Swift’s lawyers “made a strong closing argument”, adding it was not so clear-cut that leaving it to a jury was unwarranted.

In the new motion, Swift’s lawyer, Peter Anderson, wrote: “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.”

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