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Marvin Gaye’s Family Sues for Copyright Infringement

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Marvin Gaye by Billboard via Wikimedia Commons

Marvin Gaye by Billboard via Wikimedia Commons

Robin Thicke has sold six million copies of his song, “Blurred Lines.” This past summer, the hit topped the Billboard charts for an unprecedented 16 weeks.

It’s clearly been a great year for the R&B artist and his co-writers Pharrell Williams and “T.I.” Clifford Harris Jr. There’s only one problem: the song is a blatant rip-off of Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up,” claims the Gaye family in a new copyright infringement lawsuit.

On October 30th, two of Marvin Gaye’s children, Nona Marvisa Gaye and Frankie Christian Gaye, formally filed the lawsuit. It alleges:

A.) “Blurred Lines” has a similar signature phrase, vocal hook, backup vocal hook, variations, and keyboard and bass lines as “Got to Give It Up.” Also, both songs include “departures from convention such as the unusual cowbell instrumentation, omission of guitar and use of male falsetto,” according to CNN and musicologist Judith Finell, who is quoted in the lawsuit. The Gaye family is using quotes from music journalists who claim that the songs sound similar, as well as quotes from Thicke himself, who said in an interview that he wanted to make a song like “Got to Give It Up.”

B.) Thicke stole from “After the Dance,” a Gaye song from 1976, for his tune “Love After War,” recorded in 2011. The two songs, the lawsuit alleges, “contain substantially similar compositional material in their choruses, including the melodies of their hooks,” according to CNN.

C.) Sony/ATV Music Publishing’s EMI should have pursued a copyright infringement lawsuit against the “Blurred Lines” writers in order to protect Gaye’s musical legacy, according to Yahoo News. It states that intimidation tactics were used to try and stop the family from filing their lawsuit.

While “Blurred Lines” was topping the charts this summer, people started to point out the similarities between it and “Got to Give It Up.” Back in August, Pharrell and Thicke “filed a preemptive suit in August, claiming the summer smash did not infringe,” according to the Washington Post. It stated that the songs had some popular music elements in common, but that was it.

In the countersuit, the Gaye family states that they would like $150,000 for every copyright infringement found, as well as profits from both “Blurred Lines” and “Love After War.” They are also looking to block Thicke, T.I., and Pharrell from using any more of Gaye’s musical elements in “Blurred Lines” or additional songs.

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December 11th, 2013 at 12:18 pm

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