A judge overseeing a legal battle over Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” declined her attempt to dismiss the entire suit, which alleges that she copied lyrics from a song by 3LW, a group that includes Kiely Williams, Naturi Naughton, and Adrienne Bailon. While the group hasn’t released any new music since 2006, the group members have been in the press, including Bailon, who dated Rob Kardashian and appeared on Keeping Up With the Kardashians. The case was first submitted back on Sept. 18, 2017, and Swift and her team moved to dismiss it on Jan. 3, 2018, saying that “the disputed lyrics lacked originality to enjoy copyright protection.”
The songwriters behind 3LW’s 2000 song “Playas Gon’ Play,” Sean Hall and Nate Butler, allege that Swift and her team, including super-producer Max Martin, copied lyrics from their song. Entertainment Weekly reports that Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald is moving forward with a trial, though no date has been set.
“Alhough [sic] Defendants have made a strong closing argument for a jury, they have not shown that there are no genuine issues of triable fact such that Defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law,” court documents read. The defendants include songwriters Swift, Martin, and Shellback (real name Karl Johan Schuster) as well as Sony/ATV Music Publishing, and Swift’s old label, Big Machine. The track featured on her album 1989.
The court documents continue, saying, that the songwriters behind 3LW’s song “make some persuasive arguments with regard to why various factors of the respective musical and literary work analyses do objectively distinguish ‘Playas’ and ‘Shake,'” although there are still “numerous factors” that don’t completely “eliminate the possibility that there is still a genuine dispute as to the potential substantial similarity between the lyrics and their sequential structure.”
3LW’s song lyrics include “playas, they gon’ play.” Swift’s song goes “’cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play.” Other similar lyrics include 3LW’s “and haters they gonna hate” which parallel Swift’s “and haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.” EW notes that other songs that contain similar words include “Playa Hater” by The Notorious B.I.G. and 1977’s “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac.