A jury in the US has ruled that Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and T.I. breached the copyright of Marvin Gaye’s (pictured) ‘Got to Give It Up’ with their hit ‘Blurred Lines’, resulting in $7.3m in damages paid to Gaye’s family and a possible injunction preventing further distribution of the track.
Following the verdict, Gaye’s daughter, Nona Gaye, said not a touch dramatically: "Right now, I feel free. Free from… Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke's chains and what they tried to keep on us and the lies that were told."
Howard E King, the lawyer representing Williams and Thicke commented: "While we respect the judicial process, we are extremely disappointed in the ruling made today, which sets a horrible precedent for music and creativity going forward. We are reviewing the decision, considering our options and you will hear more from us soon about this matter."
You can read the views of various industry lawyers over here at Billboard.
This is of course potentially bad news for artist and songwriters as the similarity between the two songs in terms of melody and structure is negligible at best.
Fleeting resemblance, coincidence and homage don’t typically result in a copyright breach. After all, there are only so many notes and chord progressions in the pop gene pool.
Even more troubling, there are reports that the Gaye family could set their sights on other global hits that have a similarity to Gaye’s work, namely Pharrell’s ‘Happy’.
On a separate note, Kendrick Lamar surprise released his (incredible) new album ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ this week, breaking the global streaming record in the process with 9.6m listens in 24 hours.
However, the album features a reportedly uncredited use of Jamaican dancehall MC Assassin’s voice, with the vocalist’s name not appearing on Soundcloud, YouTube etc..despite being integral to the track ‘The Blacker the Berry’- a whole different kettle of copyright fish but one that artists and labels need to be extremely mindful of.
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