Are famous artists more prone to copy (or, more generously interpreted, borrow) from other artists, or are they simply more likely to be either caught out or targeted by other musicians or rightsholders for these perceived indiscretions? If we believe that they’re not any different from other artists, save for being more talented and/or luckier to achieve their stardom, then it’s easy to believe that they’re no more likely to intentionally or inadvertently infringe upon the works of others, but for more likely to get noticed for it, and to be subject to lawsuits that go after some portion of the fortune they’ve amassed.
Case in point is Taylor Swift, one of the biggest names in music and one of the more frequent artists turning up in copyright or trademark cases among musical artists. this time, she’s making news for losing in her attempt to have a copyright case over her song “Shake It Off” dismissed. The case itself dates back to 2017, which offers some illustration as to why artists are eager to have such matters go away as quickly as possible, and relates to a couple of lines in the song and their provenance.
According to the plaintiffs in the case, Sean Hall and Nathan Butler of 3LW, the lines about “players gonna play” and “haters gonna hate” were taken from a song of theirs entitled “Players Gon’ Play”; according to Swift and her team, they’re phrases commonly used enough to be considered in the public domain, a consideration that they allege the judge didn’t take under advisement in moving the case forward.
Of course each side has their own interpretation of events that they set forth; for Swift and her team, it’s an attempt to copyright troll every songwriter that references players playing and haters hating, for lack of a better term, and for Hall and Butler it’s yet another powerful artist using their resources to escape consequence or justice. Whatever the truth, it’s indisputable that Taylor Swift seems to find herself at the center of a number of IP cases, regardless of who might be at fault.