It seems as though Robin Thicke is on some “I gotta get mine, before you gotta get yours”, when it comes to dealing with allegations of copyright infringement and a potential lawsuit from Marvin Gaye’s family. Thicke, along with his band of merry men, Pharrell Williams and Clifford Harris, Jr (aka T.I.), filed a lawsuit this week in California federal court against Marvin Gaye’s family and Bridgeport Music, which owns some of Funkadelic’s music.  Apparently, Gaye’s family and Bridgeport have complaints about the similarities between “Blurred Lines” and two other songs.

The lawsuit states, “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.”

From The Hollywood Reporter:

The suit claims the Gaye family is alleging that “Blurred Lines” and Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” “feel” or “sound” the same, and that the “Gaye defendants are claiming ownership of an entire genre, as opposed to a specific work.”

As for Funkadelic, there’s said to be claimed similarity between Thicke’s hit and Funakedlic’s “Sexy Ways.”

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

New York TImes critic has noted that “Blurred Lines” is “influenced heavily” by Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up,” but the lawsuit makes the point that “being reminiscent of a ‘sound’ is not copyright infringement. The intent in producing ‘Blurred Lines’ was to evoke an era.”


Let’s take a listen to both songs. Here’s Marvin Gaye’s song, “Got to Give It Up”, which by the way, my grandmother loves.

And now here’s Robin Thicke’s, “Blurred Lines”.

That bell pattern and bass line, sound familiar?

Because copyright and plagiarism lawsuits are never cut and dry, the Gaye family may have a few issues on their hands.  The lawsuit states, “The Gayes do not have an interest in the copyright to the composition ‘Got To Give It Up’ sufficient to confer standing on them to pursue claims of infringement of that composition.”

These lawyers aren’t dumb.

Basically they’re saying that the Gayes don’t own the copyright of the song, so they can’t sue.  Even though the family is still receiving royalties from Marvin’s music, “Got to Give It Up” is owned by EMI Music Publishing and the master recordings are owned by Universal Music. With that said, the family technically can’t sue Thicke, T.I., or Pharrell.

The Gaye family and Bridgeport Music  threatened to sue if Thicke does not provide a settlement. Thicke and his crew are now going to court to determine if they have any obligation to the family.

If they win, Thicke, Williams and Harris Jr. want the record to state that they did not violate the defendant’s’ rights by copying their songs, but also that the “Gayes do not have an interest in the copyright to the composition ‘Got To Give It Up’ sufficient to confer standing on them to pursue claims of infringement of that composition.”

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  • MommieDearest

    Yeah, cosigning errybody who recognized this song was “Got to Give It Up” incognito. It was obvious to me the first time I heard it on the radio. I’m very interested to see how this lawsuit turns out.

  • Jn

    Pharell and thicke even admitted in an interview that they based their song on Gaye’s. it’s a shame really.

    • Anthony

      Pharrell, Thicke, and TI, argue that they took inspiration from Marvin Gaye, but they are not using the same chord changes, melody, or bassline.

      I think they owe the Gaye estate, but Thicke & Co. may have a good legal case.

  • TT

    What songs nowadays are original? Every song has sampled something. I personally did not think of Marvin Gaye’s song when I heard Blurred Lines but listening to it now, it clearly sounds similar. Artists are not original nowadays. They sample/redo lots of classic music.

  • Bev

    They arent wrong. Its a smart business move imo. A song sounding like another one doesnt mean that it was sampled/recreated. The family suing would be a huge waste of time for everyone involved and would kill music if they were to win being as though most music is inspired by something. I get why people are emotional about it but im not mad them *shrug*