Things appear to be on repeat, as Time magazine reported the “Blurred Lines” copyright case may now look to take rapper T.I., the label and the future sales of the song to court.
This comes after Marvin Gaye’s family won a $7.4 million copyright lawsuit against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams for their song “Blurred Lines,” which sounds a little too close to Gaye’s 1977 song “Got to Give it Up.” Thankfully, the jury heard just how similar the music is in the two songs and clearly defined copyright for the duo.
This is nothing new for the music business, as one of the most famous incidents includes Vanilla Ice lifting heavily from Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure,” a case which was settled outside of court.
Only eight years ago, there was another case with Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend,” as she reached an undisclosed settlement with the Rubinoos after it was found the chorus of her song was close to the group’s “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend.”
Unless outright confessed, it is hard to know whether these musicians are just having a “great minds think alike” moment or if they thought it would be OK to replicate another artist’s song without asking. Apparently, Thicke and Williams might think their song is an original, since they now want to file a motion for a new trial. Given that confidence, Thicke and Williams lack a good ear for things they don’t want to hear, whether they are similar sounds or the word “guilty.”
The Gaye family winning the case is only right, and wishing to push further to sue T.I. and the record label is fair, as both had their part in “Blurred Lines.”
However, wanting to stop future sales of “Blurred Lines” is excessive. According to the Time article, the Gaye family claims that the song continuing to be sold causes the family “irreparable damage.” Surely winning the case and whatever part of the over $7 million they will receive after lawyer fees should be enough for copying instrumentals from a 38-year-old song.
The legal landscape now contains lawsuits flying in every direction, despite a jury having declared that “Blurred Lines” did violate copyright issues.
The whole issue should be settled on the side of Thicke and Williams, as the court proved, and anyone with ears can hear, that the two songs are very similar, at least instrumentally, if nothing else. Granted, there is a stretched possibility that Thicke and Williams did come up with the tune on their own, but the verdict has been given and the duo needs to move on and try to be “Happy” again.
If this case stands for anything, it is that artists are often influenced by their predecessors. Sooner or later, that influence can transform into replication. Perhaps, if dealing with copyright lawsuits are too stressful, then Thicke and Williams should have considered reaching out to the Gaye family and struck a deal to lift from Gaye’s song.
Adam Mathieu is a junior majoring in studio art.