Robin Thicke’s Grammy nominated “Blurred Lines” topped the charts in 2013, and spawned a lawsuit between Thicke and Marvin Gaye’s family over copyright violation of Gaye’s 1970s hit, “Got To Give It Up.” A partial settlement was recently reached by Thicke’s record label, Sony ATV.
According to Time.com, in August 2013 Thicke and his “Blurred Lines” producers, T.I. (Clifford Harris, Jr.) and Pharrell Williams, filed suit against the late Marvin Gaye’s Estate and Bridgeport Music in what TMZ’s Harvey Levin said in an interview with Gaye’s son, Marvin Gaye III, was a declaratory judgment. Because critics said “Got To Give It Up” and “Blurred Lines” sound so similar, Thicke sought to get “Blurred Lines” declared an original work and not a copyright infringement.
CNN.com states that Thicke’s lawsuit contended that the only similarities between the two songs were “commonplace musical elements.” It further notes his complaint argues, just because a sound reminds you of another sound that does not mean it is copyright infringement.
Gaye’s children filed a counter suit against Thicke and his partners, along with EMI April publishing (a smaller company of SONY ATV, the same publishing company that also administers Thicke’s copyrighted songs), as stated in Rolling Stone. The latter was listed in the lawsuit because Gaye’s family felt it did not protect Gaye’s music catalog.
Miller London, veteran music executive, owner of The Urban Network and former Vice President and General Manager of Motown Records was very involved with the Marvin Gaye song. He said, “Motown was constantly in conflict over copyright infringement. There is such a thin line with copyright violation because you are only allowed to use so many bars before you are in violation. It is also so easy to do because so many songs sound alike. Best rule is when in doubt, get a clearance.”
He also stated, “I listened to the Robin Thicke project and I did not hear a blatant misuse, but they should have gotten a sampling license and they could have avoided all that.”
Alvin Williams, president of A. Williams Entertainment Group, former record label executive, and the co-author of The Business of Music For The Christian And Gospel Industry adds, “In my professional opinion, the writers and producers were trying to flip the original Marvin Gaye song to make a new copyright, while keeping their new copyright similar to the sound and feel. They failed. The intro to the Marvin Gaye original copyright is so melodically noticeable on several levels. The writers and producers of “Blurred Lines” should have given proper credit in the first place and that song would have generated even more revenue and would have won many awards.
The lawsuit caused “Blurred Lines” to lose momentum on what was a global smash, all because, somebody didn’t want to honor the original copyright.”
The terms of the settlement between the Gaye family and Sony ATV have not been disclosed.
By Lin. Woods