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Hall and Butler v. Swift et al. - Ninth Circuit Memorandum

By Claudia Ray

Attached is brief Ninth Circuit decision issued yesterday, reversing the dismissal pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of copyright infringement claims brought by two songwriters against Taylor Swift and others. Plaintiffs Sean Hall and Nathan Butler had alleged that the defendants' 2014 song Shake It Off copied a six-word phrase and a four-part lyrical sequence from the plaintiffs' 2001 song Playas Gon' Play. The district court found that the plaintiffs' work was not sufficiently original, but the Ninth Circuit concluded that the Complaint sufficiently alleged originality and the judicially noticed materials were not sufficient to show a lack of originality.

As stated in the Memorandum: "By concluding that, 'for such short phrases to be protected under the Copyright Act, they must be more creative than the lyrics at issues here,' the district court constituted itself as the final judge of the worth of an expressive work. Because the absence of originality is not established either on the face of the complaint or through the judicially noticed matters, we reverse the district court's dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6)."

Swift 9th Circuit.pdf

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