The Lines Are Blurred

In June of 2013 I wrote about new songs that sound like oldies and Robin Thicke’s hit single Blurred Lines was one of them. Now in 2015 the children of the great Marvin Gaye have filed a lawsuit against Pharrell, T.I. and Robin Thicke over the hit.

Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye

The case has been in court for some time and the jury awarded $7.4 million US to the Gaye family. The song that the Blurred Lines possie was accused of copying was Marvin Gaye’s  “Got to Give it Up”.

Listen to the song below

And if you don’t know Blurred lines here it is

And here is a video comparing both songs

You don’t have to be musically trained to realize that these too songs are similar. The first thing you pick up is the beat. But it doesn’t see like a direct copy of the song.


Pharrell Williams

My argument is that Pharrell was trying to copy the sound of an era. So there were was bound to be a similar sound to a popular artiste. The artistic process is of such that even though one producer thinks that their idea is so original and no one else would have it. I don’t know if it’s the creator’s sense of humour but people often get similar ideas who never met each other.

As I always say we will never know the true story. Pharell could’ve heard the song and try to replicate it but put a little twist on the beat. But if that is what he did that would not be plagarism in my opinion because then it’s a completely different song.

blurred lines posse

Here is what the Gaye family’s public release in (Rolling Stone’s Magazine) stated:

…Most songwriting begins with an organic approach; a songwriter brings his or her influences to the table and then works creatively from a blank slate in the crafting of their song to ensure originality and the integrity of their creation. If Mr. Thicke and Mr. Williams had tried to create a new song and coincidentally infused “Got to Give It Up” into their work, instead of deliberately undertaking to “write a song with the same groove,” we would probably be having a different conversation.

Like most artists, they could have licensed and secured the song for appropriate usage; a simple procedure usually arranged in advance of the song’s release. This did not happen. We would have welcomed a conversation with them before the release of their work. This also did not happen.

Instead of licensing our father’s song and giving him the appropriate songwriter credit, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams released “Blurred Lines” and then filed a pre-emptive lawsuit against us, forcing us into court.  They sought to quickly affirm that their song was “starkly different,” than “Got to Give It Up.”  The Judge denied their motion for Summary Judgement, and a jury was charged with determining the “extrinsic and intrinsic similarities” of the songs. The jury has spoken. 

We wanted to also make clear that the jury was not permitted to listen to the actual sound recording of “Got to Give It Up.” Our dad’s powerful vocal performance of his own song along with unique background sounds were eliminated from the trial, and the copyright infringement was based entirely on the similarity of the basic musical compositions, not on “style,” or “feel,” or “era,” or “genre.”  His song is so iconic that its basic composition stood strong. We feel this further amplifies the soundness of the verdict. 

Like all music fans, we have an added appreciation for songs that touch us in mysterious ways. Mr. Thicke and Mr. Williams certainly have a right to be inspired by “Got to Give It Up” but as the jury ruled, they did not have the right to use it without permission as a blueprint for a track they were constructing.

Great artists like our dad intentionally build their music to last, but we as the caretakers of such treasures, have an obligation to be vigilant about preserving the integrity of the music so that future generations understand its origins and feel its effect as the artist intended, and to assure that it retains its value.

Pharrell also responded via the Financial Times which was also covered by  Rolling Stones

“The verdict handicaps any creator out there who is making something that might be inspired by something else,” Williams told The Financial Times. “This applies to fashion, music, design… anything. If we lose our freedom to be inspired, we’re going to look up one day and the entertainment industry as we know it will be frozen in litigation. This is about protecting the intellectual rights of people who have ideas.  Everything that’s around you in a room was inspired by something or someone,” Williams added. “If you kill that, there’s no creativity.”

I’d have to agree with Pharrell here! Everyone is gonna jump on the lawsuit bandwagon as soon as they hear a little similarity.



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