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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Haters gonna hate, lawyers gonna lawyer

People do really crazy things for their 15 minutes of fame. Some people post ridiculous videos. Some people pull crazy stunts. Some people go as far as to commit crimes. Some people decide to sue mega pop stars for $40 million. 

Earlier this month, an R&B artist named Jesse Braham, who goes by Jesse Graham, filed a $42 million lawsuit against Taylor Swift for stealing the lyrics to her hit song “Shake It Off” from his 2013 song “Haters Gonna Hate.” He also demanded credit on her album for being a writer of “Shake It Off.” 

Let’s look at the lyrics to Braham’s song: “Haters gone hate, playas gone play. Watch out for them fakers, they’ll fake you every day.”

The lyrics to “Shake It Off” go: “Cause the players gonna play play play play play, and the haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate.” Later on, she sings, “the fakers gonna fake fake fake fake fake.”

Braham claims that she stole the entire chorus line to “Haters Gonna Hate,” and that without his song, “Shake It Off” would never exist. 

To start off, the phrase “haters gonna hate” is not uncommon at all. In fact, it’s so common that it has been used in colloquial language for years before Swift’s or Braham’s songs came to be. 

If anything, the phrase originated from a 2001 song called “Playas Gon’ Play” by the group 3LW. The chorus line of this song begins with, “Playas, they gonna play. And haters, they gonna hate.” If we’re using Braham’s logic here, then he must have stolen the lines to his song from 3LW’s. 

Despite mentioning haters, players and fakers, the lyrics are completely different. If you hear every album and listen to the radio, you will always find songs with similar lines in them—more similar than these two. U.S. copyright laws even state that short mottoes and catchphrases are not subject to copyright laws. He doesn’t own “haters gonna hate,” and he doesn’t own “players gonna play.” 

Additionally, the songs sound absolutely nothing alike. While “Shake It Off” has an upbeat, pop rhythm, “Haters Gonna Hate” is a slow, blues-type song. As a completely different genre, completely different style and with all but three similar, common phrases, how did Braham think his song was the precursor to T-swizzle’s? Moreover, how did he think he could beat the almighty Swift in a legal battle? 

Anyone who listened to both songs could instantly tell that they are completely different, and there would be no chance of the lawsuit actually going through, so was it all just for attention? Given the lengths people go to chase fame, they will be ecstatic even for bad media if it gets their name out there. 

Braham could not possibly believe he could win this lawsuit. He represented himself in court against Swift’s high-class legal team, who could probably take him down with one single blow. Maybe he didn’t hire himself a lawyer because he knew that he had no chance. 

He soon joined the ranks of those who sought to bring Swift down and failed miserably. The judge even had some fun with the ruling, quoting Taylor Swift songs in her final statement, “At present, the Court is not saying that Braham can never, ever, ever get his case back in court. But, for now, we have got problems, and the Court is not sure Braham can solve them.”

Maybe this wasn’t a loss for him, though. Maybe this entire scheme was a huge publicity stunt and the high really was worth the pain. If that is the case, then it really worked for him. Two months ago, no one had heard of Braham, but now his name is up in lights as that “guy who tried to sue Taylor Swift.” 

I don’t know about you, but to me that seems like an awfully likely story. No publicity is bad publicity. At least that’s what people say. 

Follow Apoorva Bhaskara on Twitter.

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