Taylor Swift Claims She Had Never Heard of 3LW Before Copyright Lawsuit

Pop star Taylor Swift has claimed that she had never heard of girl group 3LW until being hit with a copyright lawsuit over her chart-topping 2014 single "Shake It Off."

The case was initially brought in 2017 by Sean Hall and Nathan Butler, who wrote "Playas Gon' Play," the single that they accuse Swift of copying from lyrically. "Playas Gon' Play" was a minor hit for 3LW in 2001, peaking at 81 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In the 3LW song, the line used by the singers was "playas, they gonna play" and "haters, they gonna hate." Meanwhile, Swift sings on her track: "'Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play and the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate."

However, in a motion filed on Monday, Swift herself said that insisted that the lyrics to "Shake It Off" were "written entirely by me"—as she also stated that she had never heard of 3LW or the track in contention before the legal dispute.

Taylor Swift responds to 3LW lawsuit
Taylor Swift is pictured main on November 12, 2021, in New York City. Original 3LW members (L-R) Adrienne Bailon, Naturi Naughton, and Kiely Williams are pictured on February 12, 2001, in New York City. Swift has stated that she had never heard of 3LW before being hit with a copyright lawsuit over one of her hit songs. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images;/Theo Wargo/WireImage

Singer Swift said in the motion, per Billboard: "In writing the lyrics, I drew partly on experiences in my life and, in particular, unrelenting public scrutiny of my personal life, 'clickbait' reporting, public manipulation, and other forms of negative personal criticism which I learned I just needed to shake off and focus on my music.

"I recall hearing phrases about players play and haters hate stated together by other children while attending school in Wyomissing Hills, and in high school in Hendersonville [Pennsylvania]. These phrases were akin to other commonly used sayings like 'don't hate the playa, hate the game,' 'take a chill pill,' and 'say it, don't spray it.'"

Adding that she had heard the phrase in question in "many songs, films, and other works," Swift pointed to a live performance from 2013 where she wore a T-shirt from Urban Outfitters emblazoned with the phrase "haters gonna hate."

She stated: "I was struck by messages that people prone to doing something will do it, and the best way to overcome it is to shrug it off and keep living."

Taylor Swift in legal dispute over song
Taylor Swift is pictured on October 30, 2021, in Cleveland, Ohio. The singer has responded to a copyright lawsuit that was initially filed in 2017. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

While 3LW—whose founding members included Naturi Naughton, Adrienne Bailon and Kiely Williams—were a memorable presence for the MTV TRL generation of the early aughts, Swift revealed that strict rules at home prevented her from knowing of them.

"Until learning about Plaintiffs' claim in 2017, I had never heard the song 'Playas Gon' Play' and had never heard of that song or the group 3LW," Swift said, adding that her parents "did not permit me to watch TRL until I was about 13 years old.

"None of the CDs I listened to as a child, or after that, were by 3LW," she went on. "I have never heard the song 'Playas Gon' Play' on the radio, on television, or in any film. The first time I ever heard the song was after this claim was made."

After the lawsuit was initially filed, it was dismissed by a judge in 2018. Following an appeal, a judge ruled in December 2021 that the case would need to be decided by a jury trial. A court date is yet to be announced.

According to Stereogum, Swift's legal team has requested that the judge grant a summary judgment on the case, allowing them to forgo a trial.

"It is, unfortunately, not unusual for a hit song to be met by litigants hoping for a windfall based on tenuous claims that their own song was copied," Swift's attorney, Peter Anderson, wrote in Monday's motion. "But even against that background, Plaintiffs' claim sticks out as particularly baseless."