A U.S. federal judge has ruled that pop superstar Taylor Swift will have to face a jury trial over allegations that she stole the lyrics to “Shake It Off.”
U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald refused Swift’s request to dismiss the case. According to the judge, a jury might find that her 2014 chart-topping hit had infringed a copyright to “Playas Gon’ Play,” a track released in 2001 by the group 3LW.
Both the songs features phrases like “players gonna play” and “haters gonna hate.”
Meanwhile, the judge had previously rejected the case, saying the lyrics were too “banal” to be copyrighted.
In his original ruling, Fitzgerald had cited 13 earlier songs that featured similar phrases, including “Playa Hater” by The Notorious B.I.G. and “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac.
However, songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler appealed the ruling and a federal appeals court reversed his decision and sent the case back to Fitzgerald.
“Even though there are some noticeable differences between the works, there are also significant similarities in word usage and sequence/structure,” Fitzgerald wrote in his latest judgement.
He added that “the court cannot presently determine that no reasonable juror could find substantial similarity of lyrical phrasing, word arrangement, or poetic structure between the two works.”
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