Taylor Swift 'Shake It Off' copyright lawsuit dropped

The lawsuit was originally filed in 2017.

December 13, 2022, 1:47 PM

Taylor Swift will not be going to trial over her hit song "Shake It Off."

Swift and songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler have reached an agreement to dismiss the copyright lawsuit the songwriters filed against Swift in 2017. The case was originally set for trial next month.

U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald signed an order on Dec. 12 dismissing the action "in its entirety with prejudice", according to court documents obtained by ABC News.

No information about arrangements of settlement were provided, including whether there was any payment of monetary damages or songwriting credit.

Hall and Butler sued Swift and producers Max Martin and Shellback in September 2017, seeking statutory damages, compensatory damages and injunctive relief, claiming that the pop star's 2014 hit ripped off the lyrics of their 2001 song "Playas Gon' Play," which was recorded by 3LW.

"'Playas Gon' Play' includes the lyrical phrase 'Playas, they gonna play / And haters, they gonna hate.' The combination of playas/players playing along with hatas/haters hating may seem like common parlance today, however, in 2001 it was completely original and unique," the suit argued. "Indeed, the combination had not been used in popular culture prior to Plaintiffs' original use."

The suit claimed that Swift's song "copies and includes Plaintiffs' lyrical phrase ... by featuring the lyrical phrase 'Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play and the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate' prominently throughout the chorus," claiming that "the infringed copyrighted material accounts for roughly 20% of 'Shake if Off'."

US singer Taylor Swift poses in the press room in Los Angeles, Nov. 20, 2022.
Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images

The case was dismissed in 2018 by Fitzgerald, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the ruling and sent the case back the following year.

When the case was revived in 2019, Swift's reps told ABC Audio they were confident that they would be victorious.

"[Hall and Butler] are not the originators, or creators of [these] common phrases," they claimed, referencing Hall in relation to the contested lyrics "playas they gon' play, and haters they gonna hate."

The rep continued, "They did not invent these common phrases, nor are they the first to use them in a song. We are confident the true writers of 'Shake It Off' will prevail again. Their claim is not a crusade for all creatives. It is a crusade for Mr. Hall's bank account."

Swift also claimed in a sworn declaration filed with the court in August this year -- first reported by Billboard -- that the lyrics for "Shake it Off" were "written entirely by me."

"In writing the lyrics, I drew partly on 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," she wrote at the time.

She also maintained that she had heard the disputed phrases "countless times", as far back as her childhood.

"...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. 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'," she claimed. "I drew on those commonly used player and hater phrases in creating the lyrics 'Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play / And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate."

Representatives for Swift did not immediately respond ABC News' request for comment. ABC News also reached out to Hall and Butler's representatives for comment.