Judge tears into Taylor Swift over legal fees shakedown

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Judge tears into Taylor Swift over legal fees shakedown

Winning a “Shake It Off” lawsuit doesn’t entitle Taylor Swift to a legal fees shakedown, a California judge has ruled.

US District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald has denied Swift’s attempt to make a pair of songwriters pick up her $75,000 legal bill — and took time out to accuse the pop star of belittling infringement claims of the sort she’ll likely be making herself some day.

“Be careful what you wish for,” Fitzgerald wrote in his 10-page decision. “There are very few recording artists, if any, who have a greater interest than Ms. Swift in a robust regime of copyright law.”

Songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler, who wrote “Playas Gon’ Play,” a 2001 song by the girl group 3LW, had sued Swift in September for allegedly lifting the lyrics — “playas gonna play” and “haters gonna hate” — from their song.

Swift’s 2014 “Shake It Off” went on to sell 9 million units.

After Fitzgerald tossed the $30 million suit in February, Swift quickly moved to have them pay her $75,000 legal bill.

But the judge put a blank space on what Taylor would collect, ruling that the “Playas” lawsuit was “not factually spurious or farfetched.”

“There are at least colorable arguments on both sides,” the judge said.

Fitzgerald also claimed that demands for the plaintiffs to cover Swift’s legal fees defied the Copyright Act’s goal of “striking a balance” between rewarding a creator’s work and allowing others to build on it.

The jurist then dismissed the claim the Swift team tried to position as a deterrent to other frivolous suits as an unwarranted money grab.

“Put more bluntly,” the judge wrote, “if the court’s only choice were between awarding fees to defendants based on the complaint or fees to plaintiffs based on the motion, the court would without hesitation award the fees to plaintiffs.”

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