Judge uses Taylor Swift lyrics in cheeky dismissal of ‘Shake It Off’ lawsuit

Taylor Swift performs at Staples Center in August.

Taylor Swift performs at Staples Center in August.

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

In the latest tale of a pop star being accused of stealing music, a copyright infringement lawsuit against Taylor Swift was tossed out in the most spectacular fashion by a Los Angeles judge this week.

U.S. District Court Judge Gail Standish made it known that she most certainly knows her way around Swift’s songbook when she dismissed R&B singer Jesse Braham’s $42-million suit, which alleged Swift’s 2014 Grammy-nominated smash “Shake It Off” was lifted from his tune “Haters Gone Hate.”

SIGN UP for the free Essential Arts & Culture newsletter >>

“At present, the Court is not saying that Braham can never, ever, ever get his case back in court,” wrote Standish, a UCLA Law School graduate who was selected several times as one of California’s top intellectual property litigators and top women litigators by the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journals. In this case, Standish, who was appointed as a judge for the Central District of California in April 2015, seemed clearly inspired by Swift’s knack for biting breakup tunes. She continued, “But, for now, we have got problems, and the Court is not sure Braham can solve them.”

Standish then cut deeper, all the while staying in tune in with Swift: “As currently drafted, the Complaint has a blank space — one that requires Braham to do more than write his name,” she wrote in a dismissal order that could merit its own Genius page for annotating its lyrical references. “And, upon consideration of the Court’s explanation ... Braham may discover that mere pleading Band-Aids will not fix the bullet holes in his case. At least for the moment, Defendants have shaken off this lawsuit.”


Last month Braham filed the suit against the singer, alleging her catchy, simplistic chorus — “Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play / And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate” — borrows closely from his own “Haters Gone Hate.”

“If I didn’t write the song ‘Haters Gone Hate,’ there wouldn’t be a song called ‘Shake It Off,’” he told the New York Daily News last month.

Before Braham filed suit, he said, he worked tirelessly to rectify his grievances with her team.

First he asked to be named as a writer on the Grammy-nominated track and when that was denied, he then asked if Swift would pose for a selfie because what better way to help your struggling career than having a photo with Swift on social media?

The court decided that the singer hadn’t provided enough factual evidence that Swift had ripped off his song even though he claimed that 92% of Swift’s hit came from his song.

“Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play. And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate … And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake,” Swift sings while Braham’s hook is “Haters gone hate, playas gone play / Watch out for them fakers, they’ll fake you everyday.”

His case boiled down to the phrase “Hates gonna hate, players gonna play.” According to Braham there was “no way” she came up with those lyrics without hearing his song and that Swift was trolling him by releasing the song.

Apparently the 50-year-old has lived unplugged from life considering we’ve been talking about players playing and haters hating for years. 3LW warned us back in 2000 that “them playas gon’ play, [and] them haters gon’ hate” in their hit (titled, you guessed it, “Playas Gon’ Play”).

Braham can file a new complaint — but if he’s smart he’d use these last five seconds of fame by thinking of his next publicity stunt. Because those will never, ever, ever go out of style.

For more music news follow me on Twitter: @gerrickkennedy