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NYC Litigation Blog

Monday, December 21, 2015

Taylor Swift Has Shaken Off a Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

Are similar lyrics enough to prove copyright infringement?

 

Copyright infringement is the unauthorized use of another’s artistic work.  This type of infringement often occurs with works of art, photographs, writing and songs.  Recently, a fellow musician filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against pop singer Taylor Swift.

Jesse Braham filed lawsuit against Swift in a United States District Court in California.  He claimed that Swift used lyrics from his song in her 2014 hit “Shake It Off”.  Specifically, he alleged that Swift stole the phrases “haters gonna hate” and “players gonna play” from his 2013 song “Haters Gone Hate”.  Braham claimed that it was impossible that Swift came up with the phrases without hearing his song.  After Sony representatives denied his requests for writing credit and a selfie with Swift, he filed suit without representation for $42 million.

The court ultimately found that Braham had not made a prima facie case for copyright infringement and dismissed the claims.  Apparently, similar lyrics alone are not enough to prove a copyright infringement claim.  In her opinion Judge Gail Standish paraphrased the lyrics of a number of Swift’s songs... “the court is not saying Braham can never, ever, ever get his case back in court” and “we have got problems and the court is not sure Braham can solve them.”  She even went as far as to say that the “defendants have shaken off this lawsuit.”

Copyright infringement is a complex area of law.  If you have an issue in this area you need a qualified attorney to assist you. 

 


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