No, Marvin Gaye’s Son Isn’t Suing ‘Empire’ for Copyright Infringement

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Yes, the heirs of Marvin Gaye successfully sued Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke for $7.4 million in one of the most frivolous and ridiculous copyright cases in history.

No, Marvin Gaye’s son, Marvin Gaye III, isn’t suing the creators of the show ‘Empire’ for ripping off his idea, at least according to Gaye’s lawyer.  “My client has not filed a lawsuit regarding the Empire series,” attorney Paul Philips told Rolling Stone.

“Right now, Marvin’s interests and our efforts remain focused on the ‘Blurred Lines’ case and on seeing that through to its conclusion.”

The ‘Empire’ lawsuit was first alleged by TMZ, who actually quoted ‘Gaye’s lawyer’ as saying, “We understand that three things can’t be hidden for long: the Sun, the Moon and the Truth!”

Philips wasn’t actually named in that quote, however, and the quote does have that ‘fabricated’ look to it.  TMZ claimed that Gaye III actually filed a treatment for a show called ‘Diamonds & Ballads’ with the Writers Guild of America in 2010, which features a Motown-inspired story of a black family in the music industry.

Of course, TMZ does have a mixed reputation, though Rolling Stones’ is probably worse: late last year, the venerable music magazine falsely accusing multiple fraternity members at the University of Virginia of committing gang rape, while defaming an entire university and fraternal chapter in the process (a situation that will probably cost them more than $7.4 million).  That makes Philips’ choice of Rolling Stone as a clarification source a curious one, though the real beef is back with TMZ.  “We will address the TMZ report and the Empire matter at the appropriate time,” Philips concluded.

Separately, lawyers for Pharrell and Thicke have been challenging their infringement verdict and wrangling over the penalties, though only with limited success.  In the latest ruling, US District Court judge John Kronstad shaved the $7.4 million penalty by $2.1 million, but also tied T.I. into the liability circle while requiring a 50% vig on future royalties.