The Hollywood Reporter broke the story last night that “Blurred Lines” songwriters Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and T.I. (Clifford Harris, Jr.) are suing the family of late R&B singer Marvin Gaye and Bridgeport Music, owner of some of Funkadelic compositions, over alleged similarities between their smash hit and Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” and Funkadelic’s “Sexy Ways.”
The lawsuit states that the "Plaintiffs, who have the utmost respect for and admiration of Marvin Gaye, Funkadelic and their musical legacies, reluctantly file this action in the face of multiple adverse claims from alleged successors in interest to those artists. Defendants continue to insist that plaintiffs' massively successful composition, 'Blurred Lines,' copies 'their' compositions."
Alleging that “representatives of the Gayes have recently notified plaintiffs that, if plaintiffs do not pay a monetary settlement of the Gayes' claim, the Gayes intend to initiate litigation for copyright infringement against plaintiffs and others,” the suit aims for a declaration that “Blurred Lines” is an original composition free of copyright violations.
“There are no similarities between plaintiffs' composition and those the claimants allege they own, other than commonplace musical elements," the lawsuit says.
That’s where some might disagree. This writer, for one, assumed “Blurred Lines” had at the very least interpolated elements of Gaye’s original hit. Have a listen for yourself.
Even if there are noticeable similarities between “Blurred Lines” and “Got to Give It Up” -- and to Thicke’s credit, he’s never been shy about crediting Marvin Gaye as an influence on the song -- it’s extremely difficult to prove copyright infringement in music, since chord progressions and melodic structures bring other songs to mind all the time. The lawsuit itself points out that "being reminiscent of a 'sound' is not copyright infringement. The intent in producing 'Blurred Lines' was to evoke an era."
"Gaye defendants are claiming ownership of an entire genre, as opposed to a specific work,” it says.