Category Archives: Poems, prose & song

Hall v Swift Dismissal: the uncreativity of [noun] gonna [verb]

Taylor Swift / Wikimedia Commons

Last year, songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler sued Taylor Swift, arguing that in her single “Shake It Off” she stole a phrase from their composition “Playas Gon’ Play.” Their lawsuit hinged on the phrase “playas, they gonna play, and haters, they gonna hate” — the chorus of their song.

In short, they lost. And it seems they were always [gonna] lose. “At the hearing, Plaintiffs’ counsel offered alternative (very clunky) formulations of pairing a noun with its intransitive verb, thereby suggesting that “[noun] gonna [verb]” was creative in itself. While clever, this argument does not persuade. The argument ultimately only makes sense if the use of “gonna” as a contraction of “is going to” is sufficiently creative, or (as discussed above) one can claim creativity in asserting that a type of person acts in accordance with his or her inherent nature. To explicitly state the argument is to see how banal the asserted creativity is. In sum, the lyrics at issue – the only thing that Plaintiffs allege Defendants copied – are too brief, unoriginal, and uncreative to warrant protection under the Copyright Act.” The BBC told the full story.

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