Out of the Woods: Taylor Swift Wins Copyright Case

Out of the Woods: Taylor Swift Wins Copyright Case

We’re kicking off the post-Thanksgiving week with a delicious opinion from U.S. Magistrate Judge Gail J. Standish in the copyright case of Jessie Braham v. Sony/ATC Music Publishing, et al.

The plaintiff, who records as Jessie Graham, claimed that Swift’s song “Shake It Off” from her 2014 album, “1989,” uses the same 22-word phrase as in his song “Haters Gonna Hate”; that his “song phrase string is used over 70+ times”; and that “92 percent of the lyrics” came from his work. Plaintiff asked for $42 million in damages and a songwriting credit.

Judge Standish was not persuaded by Braham’s lawsuit. In her ruling, the judge determined that the case did not rise above the speculative level and that if Braham, who represented himself, tries his case again, he has an “uphill battle” in pleading copyright infringement based on the lyrics from both songs.

To the delight of Swifties everywhere, Judge Standish concluded her ruling by cleverly drawing upon the songstress’ work.

“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.”


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