Several media outlets report that Jesse Braham (real name Jesse Graham), an out of work and seemingly unknown musician, has filed a federal lawsuit Taylor Swift alleging that she stole the lyrics for her hit song “Shake It Off” from his song “Haters Gonna Hate.” In his complaint, Braham asserts “if Jessie Braham did not write the song ‘Haters Gone Hate,’ then Taylor Swift would not have written the song ‘Shake It Off.'”
Maybe it’s because I’m a huge Taylor Swift fan, but I believe that’s a very bold statement for Mr. Braham to make. Ms. Swift, while recycling heartbreak, her manic-pixie-dreamgirl persona, and those faces she makes whenever she wins an award, (you know it– the “I-can’t-believe-I-won-how-shocking!” look) probably didn’t need a huge deal of inspiration in rearranging five words to get her point across. Our job as attorneys, however, isn’t to chatter about the original songwriting prowess of our favorite blonde twenty-something, but to break down the legal argument behind the claim.