American R&B singer Jesse Braham, better known by his stage name, Jesse Graham, is suing country-turned-pop singer Taylor Swift over her song “Shake it Off,” claiming that she stole lyrics from his original song, “Haters Gone Hate.” Can we just take a moment and appreciate the name of Graham’s song? Also, it’s kinda better than T-Swift’s.
The suit, as it stands, not only demands $42 million in payment, but for Jesse Graham’s name to be added as a writer on future releases of the track. In other words, he’ll get his fortune and fame by killing two birds with one stone.
What are the damning lyrics in question? For the Swift song, it is likely about the two separate lines, “And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate…And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake.” For the earlier Graham song, it is the lyric, “Haters gone hate, playas gone play. Watch out for them fakers, they’ll fake you everyday.”
Graham release a statement, claiming, “Her hook is the same hook as mine…If I didn’t write the song ‘Haters Gone Hate,’ there wouldn’t be a song called ‘Shake It Off.’” He also went as far as to say that the Swift song reuses the hook around 72 times, and he doesn’t believe Swift came up with the song on her own. Graham says he tried to settle the issue out of court on multiple occasions and even contacted Swift’s legal representatives a reported four or five times.
There’s some speculation that Graham believes he created the word “hater,” which T-Swift used for her song. The only problem with this is that the term probably originated in the 90’s and was likely derived from the term “player hater.” On the other hand, it is possible that Graham’s suing over other issues, like the aforementioned the identical phrases.
However, if that is the case, one has to wonder if Graham even has a legal leg to stand on. According to one anonymous legal source, “Mr. Braham, who is representing himself, cannot claim copyright protection for the phrases ‘haters gone hate’ and ‘playas gone play’ because the Copyright Act does not protect short phrases and these phrases are not original to him. In addition, and most damning to Mr. Braham’s claim, the two songs have absolutely nothing in common.” It probably won’t help Graham’s case that Swift’s a little bit country… and he’s a little bit rock and roll…er, R&B, but there still may be issue over the hook.
Swift and her legal team have yet to release additional information regarding the case as it currently stands.