Haters Gonna Hate: Taylor Swift Sued Over ‘Shake It Off’ Lyrics


Pop superstar Taylor Swift is used to fending off the haters, but this time, she will be doing it in federal court. In a recent lawsuit, R&B singer Jessie Braham sued Swift for $42 million, alleging that Swift took lyrics from his 2013 single, “Haters Gone Hate,” for her No. 1 hit single “Shake It Off.” Braham is alleging copyright infringement based on his song’s chorus, which contains the following chorus lyrics: “Haters gone hate, playas gone play / Watch out for them fakers, they'll fake you every day.” Swift’s song, on the other hand, contains these chorus lyrics: “Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play / And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.” Additionally, the lyrics include: “And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake.”

“Her hook is the same hook as mine. If I didn't write the song ‘Haters Gone Hate,’ there wouldn't be a song called ‘Shake It Off,’” Braham told the New York Daily News.

Braham’s song has now received around 1.3 million views on YouTube, while at least one article written shortly after the lawsuit was filed noted the video had around 400,000 views. Before filing the lawsuit, Braham contacted Swift’s record label and said he would drop the claims if he were named as a writer of the song and if he received a selfie with Swift. His request was denied. Braham also said that he planned on filing suit against CNN because it had a morning show named New Day, while Braham runs a church named New Day Worldwide.

The songs do not sound at all alike; therefore, Braham’s lawsuit is possibly predicated simply on Swift’s alleged appropriation of his lyrics. First, it may be difficult for Braham to prove that Swift took the lyrics from his song because the saying “haters gonna hate” existed in many permutations prior to his song’s existence. But second, even if he were able to prove that point, a court could potentially find that her use of the lyrics was sufficiently transformative to qualify for a fair use defense because of the songs’ vastly different melodies. Swift just might be able to shake this lawsuit off.

Update: Read how United States District Court judge Gail Standish used Swift's lyrics to dismiss case.

Sources: http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-34692465 http://www.theverge.com/tldr/2015/11/2/9658006/taylor-swift-shake-it-off-lawsuit-jessie-braham http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/nov/02/taylor-swift-faces-42m-lawsuit-over-shake-it-off-jesse-graham http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/6746310/taylor-swift-sued-lyrics-shake-it-off

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