Robin Thicke Fights Back Against Marvin Gaye Estate After Infringement Accusations

Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams, and Clifford Harris Jr. ( T.I.) filed a declaratory relief (obtained by the Hollywood Reporter), asking the court to assess the validity and sensibility of Bridgeport Music and the Marvin Gaye estate’s claims against the trio’s “Blurred Lines” of copyright infringement.

The hit single garnered more than 140 million views on Youtube and has reached no. 1 on multinational charts. Bridgeport, Frankie Christian Gaye, Marvin Gaye III, Nona Marvisa Gaye, and up to ten other “John Does” are under the impression that the song has ripped off elements of Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up” and the Funkadelic’s “Sexy Ways.”

However, Thicke, Williams, and Harris credits this success to perfectly unique creativity with the intention of “evok[ing] an era,” according to the lawsuit, and that “being reminiscent of a ‘sound’ is not copyright infringement.”

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4 Responses

  1. Linsey Holgersen

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    Reply
  2. Same That Tune
    Same That Tune

    Songs become hits precisely because they remind us of sounds (eg melodies, rhythms, chord changes, production) that we’ve previously heard. It is for this reason that labels seek new artists that sound like currently successful artists. Publishers seek songs that sound like other successful songs. It requires a certain level of skill to emulate another artist without sounding like a carbon copy. To his credit, Pharrell possesses such skill. However, Blurred Lines definitely pushes the boundaries of a tribute track. Similarities to Got To Give It Up include the cowbell, handclaps, Fender Rhodes, studio chatter, and falsetto crooning. The real question is Did Marvin Gaye create a distinctive and recognizable “sound” by combining the aforementioned elements? Artists such as Tom Waits have successfully claimed infringement based on a sound and not a particular melody. With respect to Sexy Ways by Funkadelic, Blurred Lines melody definitely bears a strong resemblance. At the end of the day this is about the almighty dollar, and not artistic freedom, which explains why Thicke and company sued their heroes to preserve their earnings. To vote on the similarity between thes songs (and hear other song comparisons), you can visit my site Same That Tune:

    http://www.samethattune.com/got-give-it-marvin-gaye-vs-blurred-lines-robin-thicke

    Reply
    • Central Scrutinizer
      Central Scrutinizer

      Just to clarify a common misconception, Tom Waits based his lawsuit on Right of Publicity not copyright.

      Right of publicity is the right to control the commercial use of your identity. It is more similar to trademark law than copyright.

      Reply

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