Robin Thicke sued for Copyright Infringement on 2 Marvin Gaye songs

UPDATE: In the face of legal action from blue-eyed soul star Robin Thicke (read below to catch up on the story so far) Marvin Gaye‘s family has doubled down on their allegations and is now suing Thicke for infringing the copyright of not one but TWO Marvin Gaye compositions. In addition to the alleged infringement on the dance classic “Got To Give It Up” that Thicke and producer Pharrell are supposed to have engaged in to create their massive song of the summer “Blurred Lines,” the Gaye family is also taking aim at alleged use of ”After the Dance” on Thicke’s title track “Love After War”–and legal papers obtained by The Hollywood Reporter leave the door open for claims that Robin’s ”Marvin Gaye fixation” may extend to other songs in his catalog. According to their counterclaim, EMI April–the song publisher now owned by Sony/ATV, which has business dealings with both sides in the case–breached a contract and its fiduciary duty, stating:

“The EMI Defendants control approximately thirty percent (30%) of the music publishing market throughout the world,” says the family’s court papers. “Accordingly, there is a strong likelihood that conflicts of interest, such as the one in the present case, will arise again between the EMI Defendants and the Gaye Family.  Based upon the blatant and egregious breach of the EMI Defendants’ fiduciary duty and their covenant of good faith and fair dealing, the EMI Defendants have proven that they cannot be trusted to remain neutral and impartial, and that they are unworthy of the level of trust and professional conduct which is required of a copyright administrator charged with protecting the Gaye Family’s important interests in copyrighted works created by Marvin Gaye.”

Making it clear that the Gayes’ aim is not only a piece of the mega-hit “Blurred Lines” but a move to wrest control of the entire Gaye catalog away from EMI April. That in itself would set an entirely new legal precedent (if it stands). But wait, it gets deeper! The most damning evidence against Thicke may not be the notes of his songs (scroll down to compare and judge for yourself), but his own words from a GQ Magazine interview, wherein he described the “Blurred Lines” session with Pharrell this way:

“Pharrell and I were in the studio and I told him that one of my favorite songs of all time was Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got to Give it Up.’ I was like, ‘Damn, we should make something like that, something with that groove.’ Then he started playing a little something and we literally wrote the song in about a half hour and recorded it.”

That was before any legal action had taken place. Post-litigation, Thicke told TMZ a very different story:

“Q: So, so, when you, when you wrote ["Blurred Lines"], do you like think of Marvin Gaye like when you write the music?

A: No.”

Stay tuned for more twists in the tale but meanwhile compare “Love After War” and Marvin’s “After The Dance” in their entirety below (doesn’t sound like copyright infringement to this DJ, but Thicke’s own words of praise for the Motown legend may yet come back to haunt him. Blurred lines, indeed).TMZ, meanwhile went to the toruble of cutting together a whole sizzle reel of Thicke’s Marvin-isms.

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Robin Thicke can’t avoid press regarding “Blurred Lines.” According to The Hollywood ReporterThicke, Pharrell Williams, and Clifford Harris Jr (T.I.) are filing a lawsuit against Marvin Gaye‘s Family and Bridgeport Music, the owner of Funkadelic’s music, as a way to protect their hit song. They are being accused of stealing parts of Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up,” and Funkadelic’s “Sexy Ways.” According to the lawsuit:

““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. But there are no similarities between plaintiffs’ composition and those the claimants allege they own, other than commonplace musical elements. Plaintiffs created a hit and did it without copying anyone else’s composition.”

In listening to the Funkadelic and Marvin Gaye songs, it’s obvious that the vibe and groove of “Blurred Lines” is similar, but is doing more praising of a style than ripping off. Even P-Funk leader George Clinton, who has encountered his own legal issues with Bridgeport Music, has spoken out in favor of Robin Thicke:

Compare all three tracks below and read the full case.

Gotta throw in this Dilla remix of The Brand New Heavies “Saturday Night” for comparison as well:

Comments

  • Nuff Ced

    The similarities with “Got To Give It Up” are rather obvious

    • Pulseguy

      Same genre, and it is similar. But, you are allowed to be similar. 1000s of songs are closer than these two.

      But, I like Marvin more.

  • Kwab

    I thought it was the same beat as soon as I heard it…I’m surprised they didn’t just get sample clearance before this mess ensued. Erick Sermon went and got clearance at least twice!

    • nateynuclear

      They didn’t sample. They adopted similar structure, feel, and the general ethos of the song but Blurred Lines was for the most part made from scratch and has it’s own melody. It wasn’t a copy but it does pay homage to the original and their lies the problem. Thicke and company are justified.

      This is common practice in music and something all of the greats have done in some degree. This one is just a little too close for comfort because untrained ears can’t tell the difference between the two.

    • Pulseguy

      Not close enough if you ask me. Same genre, same funk, very, very similar bass line. But, the tune is different and the changes are different. There are 1000s of songs closer than this.

      And, the Funkadelic isn’t even close.

  • am

    This song just has the same feel as Got to give it UP.

  • deeb

    general MIDI, karaoke re-records are not copyright infringement.

  • carrot-juice

    in 20 years will any of us even remember ‘blurred lines’? i regularly play ‘got to give it up’, all these years later, it’s still in rotation… i don’t see ‘blurred lines’ having anywhere near that kind of longevity. this lawsuit is just a stupid publicity stunt, that shows a serious lack of class.

  • http://mylavaland.tumblr.com/ Nana Quaison Sackey

    I love Robin Thicke but that TMZ comparison video is too close for comfort.

  • slikpete

    blurred lines #1 hit of the summer? Further proof pop music has gone downhill…