Pop icon Taylor Swift has established herself in recent years as an outspoken champion of artists’ rights. There’s a bit of irony, then, in the fact that she’s now being sued by another artist for violating those rights.
Jesse Graham, a little-known R&B singer, threw a $42 million lawsuit at Swift last week claiming that her 2014 hit song “Shake it Off”—which debuted at the top of several charts, has been platinum-certified in multiple countries, and received a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year—stole its chorus from a song he wrote in 2013. In both songs, the phrase “haters gonna hate, players gonna play” is sung multiple times. Graham told the New York Daily News that there is “no way” Swift independently came up with those lyrics.
“At first I was going to let it go, but this song is my song all the way,” he said. “If I didn’t write the song ‘Haters Gone Hate,” there wouldn’t be a song called ‘Shake It Off.'”
Here’s Graham’s song, below:
For Swift, this is only the latest in a string of legal spats. In 2014, a streetwear brand accused her of copyright infringement for using its name on some merchandise; she’s also weathered accusations that her 2015 music video for “Bad Blood” ripped off a popular K-pop group. A Colorado DJ sued her in September for allegedly getting him fired—to which Swift (swiftly) responded in October, firing off a countersuit that claims he “groped her bottom.”
Swift’s representatives have not publicly commented on Graham’s plagiarism lawsuit. Of course, big pop stars have a way of attracting attention and controversy wherever they go—let’s not forget the time Swift unwittingly became a critic of the Chinese government—so this case might end up being more of a PR hassle for Swift and her label than a real legal challenge.
If Graham was hoping first and foremost for public attention, though, it seems to have worked: The YouTube video of his song has drawn hundreds of new comments since he filed the suit. Granted, the majority of them are viciously negative.
Tagged: copyright lawsuite