Taylor Swift wants to make something very clear: her 2014 hit “Shake It Off” was “written entirely” by her and no one else.
Swift, 32, made her statement in a sworn declaration on Monday, August 8, as she fights allegations of copyright infringement, according to a report from Billboard. The artist was sued in 2017 by songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler who claim Swift cribbed her lyrics from their 2001 track, “Playas Gon’ Play”, performed by 3LW. In “Shake It Off,” Swift sings, “‘Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play and the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.” Meanwhile, “Playas Gon’ Play” features the line, “playas, they gonna play” and “haters, they gonna hate.”
Explaining the origins of her song, Swift told the judge, “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.”
The singer-songwriter added that she had heard phrases about ‘players playing’ and ‘haters hating’ “countless times” throughout her life. “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,” Swift wrote. “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.’”
The “August” singer also said that she “had never heard the song ‘Playas Gon’ Play’ and had never heard of that song or the group 3LW,” until she learned about the lawsuit in 2017.
“None of the CDs I listened to as a child, or after that, were by 3LW,” she continued. “I have never heard the song ‘Playas Gon’ Play’ on the radio, on television, or in any film. The first time I ever heard the song was after this claim was made.”
In declaring that she had heard the phrases in question in “many songs, films, and other works,” Swift echoed an argument her lawyers have long been making, namely that ‘players playing’ and ‘haters hating’ are such common idioms that they defy copyright.
The lawsuit against Swift was initially tossed by a judge in 2018. However, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision in 2019. Now, Swift’s lawyers are hoping the judge will grant a summary judgement and avoid a jury trial.