This one has been going on for a while – and it has to do with the song “Shake it Off.” Yes, it’s about the “Players gonna play” lyrics. The group who opened the lawsuit, 3LW, or rather the writers of that song Sean Hall and Nathan Butler, say that Taylor stole their lyrics, modified them only slightly, and then made millions off of their work.
The lawsuit began last year and has been in and out of the court system since it began, but the case was finally dismissed. That’s not to downplay the claims of Sean and Nathan, but the Judge felt like the case wasn’t worthy of going to trial, basically. Here’s what Judge Michael Fitzgerald wrote:
The lynchpin of this entire case is thus whether or not the lyrics ‘Playas, they gonna play / And haters, they gonna hate’ are eligible for protection under the Copyright Act… [B]y 2001, American popular culture was heavily steeped in the concepts of players, haters, and player haters. … The concept of actors acting in accordance with their essential nature is not at all creative; it is banal. The allegedly infringed lyrics are short phrases that lack the modicum of originality and creativity required for copyright protection.
Essentially what that means is that the phrase, being a part of pop-culture and a common phrase, “players gonna play/hate” isn’t a “creative” enough phrase to warrant a copyright – basically saying that nobody can “own” that phrase, and there are only so many ways to say it. So it’s not necessarily a “win” for Taylor, but it certainly wasn’t a loss. The plaintiffs, Sean Hall and Nathan Butler will have one opportunity to modify their case and bring it back to court, but everyone involved finds that outcome unlikely.