Marvin Gaye wrote and performed many Motown hits during his legendary career. Sadly, he died early and tragically in 1984 at the age of 44. However, Marvin Gaye received several posthumous honors and awards, including his 1987 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1977, Marvin Gaye released a hit single called “Got to Give It Up.” The song topped billboard charts and became an international favorite.
Blurred Lines. Robin Thicke. Copyright Infringement.
Fast forward 36 years to 2013 and the release of Robin Thicke’s hit song “Blurred Lines,” a song that the estate of Marvin Gaye believed was way too similar to “Got to Give It Up.” In August of 2013, the Gaye Estate filed a lawsuit alleging copyright infringement.
Robin Thicke’s attorneys argued that the similarities in the songs we more a matter of “feeling” and “evocation of an era” than the copying of a musical theme, and that no copyright laws were broken. The Estate of Marvin Gaye successfully claimed copyright infringement.
After a year and a half, the case was finally resolved this past Tuesday when a Los Angeles federal jury agreed with the estate of Marvin Gaye, deciding that Thicke and co-defendant Pharrell Williams, who co-wrote “Blurred Lines,” did infringe on the copyright and awarded the family of Marvin Gaye over $7.3 million. The damages are believed to be one of the highest awarded in a music copyright case.
After the verdict, Richard S. Busch, an attorney for the Gaye family, spoke of the main argument of the defense saying: “Throughout this case they made comments about how this was about a groove, and how this was about an era, it wasn’t. It was about the copyright of ‘Got to Give It Up.’ It was about copyright infringement.” Attorneys for Thicke and Williams would only say that they are “considering their legal options.” However, Thicke and Williams did release a joint statement saying they were “extremely disappointed in the ruling made today, which sets a horrible precedent for music and creativity going forward.”
As an attorney who believes in protecting the rights of creators, I am pleased with the outcome. What do you think? Do you think “Blurred Lines” sounds similar to Marvin Gaye’s hit single “Got to Give It Up”?
Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on Facebook, Twitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groups, Google+ Circles.