As you may know, California judge has dismissed a copyright lawsuit against Taylor Swift. Musician Jessie Braham had filed the suit, claiming that Swift’s hit song “Shake It Off” stole lyrics from his 2013 song “Haters Gone Hate.”
J. Michael Keyes is an intellectual property partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney with extensive trial and litigation experience in cases involving trademarks, copyrights, unfair competition and false advertising. He has tried several cases in federal courts across the United States. Recently, Mike and his team obtained a final judgment and permanent injunction in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on behalf of Rovio Entertainment, Ltd., the creator of Angry Birds®. He’s been following this closely and of the dismissal says,
“In a rare procedural move, United States District Court Magistrate Judge Gail Standish, recommended that the copyright suit against Taylor Swift be dismissed. The Plaintiff, Jessie Brahman, requested that he be allowed to proceed with the suit without paying the filing fee because he is without the financial means to do so. When such a request is made the Court screens the suit to see if the allegations appear to have merit. The Magistrate Judge considered the allegations and listened to Mr. Brahman’s song “Haters Gone Hate” and Ms. Swift’s smash hit “Shake it Off.” The Court noted that after listening to the two songs, there is no support for Mr. Brahman’s allegations that Taylor Swift copied his 22 word phrase and that 92% of the lyrics in Shake it Off were lifted from Haters Gone Hate. While the judge indicated that Mr. Brahman may refile the suit and provide better factual support for his copyright infringement claim, she sent a clear message that he faces an “uphill battle,” Keyes says.
“Mr. Brahman’s request to proceed in forma without a payment of the filing fee gave the Court an early opportunity to assess the allegations even before the adversarial process got underway when Ms. Swift’s legal team, presumably, would have requested dismissal of the case. The court’s recommendation is a welcome outcome. Copyright law is meant to protect one’s original musical composition from misappropriation by another. One need only casually listen to the two works to see that Ms. Swift’s smash hit bears no resemblance to Mr. Brahman’s work. As Ms. Swift so aptly puts it, “fakers gonna fake,” but they can’t fake their way into a copyright lawsuit against one of the biggest names in music,” Keyes says.