Blurred Copyright for Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give it Up”

Marvin Gaye and Robin Thicke

Wednesday, Marvin Gaye’s family formally accused Robin Thicke of borrowing key elements of his hit song, “Blurred Lines”, from Marvin Gaye’s 1977 song “Got to Give it Up”.  The accusations don’t stop there, Gaye’s family also accuses Thicke of borrowing from some of Gaye’s other songs including “After the Dance” for Thicke’s Love and War. The Gaye family is also suing additional parties including song collaborators Pharrell Williams and T.I., Universal Music group and EMI.

“To write and record the song ‘Blurred Lines,’ the … writers intentionally and unlawfully copied and assembled a constellation of distinctive and important elements from [Gaye’s song],” the filing said. “’Blurred Lines is so substantially similar … that ordinary observers all over the world have remarked that the two songs sound the same, which they do.”

Robin Thicke has filed his own declaratory judgment on grounds that Gaye’s family threatened to file suit for “Blurred Lines”.  It is no secret that Thicke has patterned himself after his beloved inspiration Marvin Gaye.  He has openly mentioned that “Blurred Lines” was created with “Got to Give it Up” in mind.  In an interview with GQ and Billboard before litigation Thicke is quoted as saying:

“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.”

Counsel for Thicke said the songs share the same genre, but the notes are different, therefore, the fact that Thicke and his collaborators are fans of Gaye makes no difference because there is no infringement.

Thicke and his collaborators assert in their own claim that the Gaye family is attempting to claim “ownership of an entire genre, rather than a specific work.”  “There are no similarities between plaintiffs’ composition and those the claimants allege they own, other than commonplace musical elements,” Thicke’s complaint said. “Plaintiffs created a hit and did it without copying anyone else’s composition.”

Nona and Frankie Gaye also filed claims against EMI, The label has connections to both parties.  EMI is the co-publisher of producing superstar Williams and is said to co-own and control “Blurred Lines.” However, the label also controls the recording right to Gaye’s song through assignment, and as a result Gaye’s family claims EMI violated its fiduciary duty to the Gaye family by not pursuing the infringement and by “attempting to interfere with and thwart the Gaye family’s pursuit of these claims”.  The Gaye family feels the punishment for EMI should be for it to lose all profits on “Blurred Lines” as well as rights to administer the song catalog of Gaye, known as the “Prince of Soul.”

Links for “Blurred Lines” and “Got to Give it Up” are posted below.

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