On Tuesday a California judge dismissed a $42 million copyright lawsuit against Taylor Swift that accused her of stealing another artist's lyrics for her hit song "Shake It Off." Jessie Braham is a British R&B artist, and little else is known about him other than his failed lawsuit. He claimed that his song "Haters Gone Hate" contained the same 22-word phrase that Swift used in "Shake It Off," and said he copyrighted it in February 2013. United States District Court Judge Gail Standish had a little fun when she dismissed the suit, quoting lyrics from other Swift songs in her decision. Not surprisingly, pop artists don't get to copyright words and phrases that are stolen from street culture.
Braham claimed in the lawsuit that 92% of Taylor Swift's song came from his song. That's a very specific percentage. Look at this guy busting out his math skills for a frivolous lawsuit! Here are Swift's lyrics:
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.
And here are Braham's lyrics:
Haters gone hate, playas gone play. Watch out for them fakers, they'll fake you everyday.
Obviously, words like player and hater are used in loads of songs and memes. Which is precisely what the court pointed out, citing Know Your Meme and Urban Dictionary:
"Haters gonna Hate" entry on Urban Dictionary, reflecting use and definition of the phrase since at least August 2010.
See also http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/haters-gonna-hate (purporting to describe history, origin, search interest, and etymology of "Haters Gonna Hate," including use in internet memes and animated GIFs throughout 2011, and as early as 2008.
In concluding her dismissal, the judge used lyrics from Swift's hits "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," "Blank Space," and "Bad Blood":
At present, the Court is not saying that Braham can never, ever, ever get his case back in court. But, for now, we have got problems, and the Court is not sure Braham can solve them. As currently drafted, the Complaint has a blank space-one that requires Braham to do more than write his name. And, upon consideration of the Court's explanation in Part II, 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.
That is one of the funniest court decisions ever written. Granted, it was probably the work of a young clerk, but Standish went all the way with it. Although they did stop short of asking Braham why he's gotta be so mean.