Is Blurred Lines a Copyright?

The singers of the new hit “Blurred Lines”, Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams, and T.I filed a lawsuit to protect their song from claims of infringement from Marvin Gaye’s song “Got to Give It Up”. The singers of Blurred Lines complained that Gaye and his family think they copied a song from Gaye he produced in the 70s. The Gaye’s think the songs sound way to familiar and that Blurred Lines is a copyright. The weird thing is that the Blurred Lines crew filed suit first, so it had people wondering if they really did copy the song or were they really just protecting themselves from a huge lawsuit.

I feel like this happens a lot in music because you can put any two songs together that sound alike and say they got them from each other. Yes, Blurred Lines may have used a beat that sounds similar to Marvin Gaye’s song but they also added more instrumentals to it and totally changed the beat around. They recreated the whole song which multiple artist have done in today’s time.

Thicke took matters into his own hands and started calling producers and attorneys to find out if this really was an infringement on Marvin Gaye’s song, which shows he really did care and did not want to use a copied song. He found out that, “you have to consider three things: cadence, melody and lyrics, and you have to take two of the three in order for it to be infringement. If none of the three is used in their identical form, then the producer is not required to cut a check to the publisher of the original version. In the case of Blurred Lines,  they take none of the three” (Wilson).

After taking this all into consideration, the author of the article I read, Joycelyn Wilson, questions whether there is such thing as original music anymore. Which really presents a good question.

In our reading, The Future of Ideas stated that, “Ten years ago,” Guggenheim explains, “if incidental artwork was recognized by a common person, then you would have to clear its copy- right. Today, things are very different. Now if any piece of artwork is recognizable by anybody then you have to clear the rights of that and pay to use the work. Almost every piece of artwork, any piece of furniture, or sculpture, has to be cleared before you can use it.” From this statement I feel like the Blurred Lines crew did what was right because they had their song cleared so that no infringement claims would be held against them which was the right thing to do because the two songs were recognizable to each other.  In Kant’s reading he says, “Thus it is very difficult for the individual to work himself out of the nonage which has become almost second nature to him.” This made me think that it is second nature to our society to use others work because that is how it has always been with permission. In Milton’s reading he states, “Last, that it will be primely to the discouragement of all learning, and the stop of Truth, not only by disexercising and blunting our abilities in what we know already, but by hindring and cropping the discovery that might bee yet further made both in religious and civill Wisdome.” This statement made me think that Milton does value originality but how originality in today’s time has somehow emerged from an act of imitation which is a perfect example of the incident with Blurred Lines. Milton argued against the principle of pre-censorship and in favor of tolerance.

Lessig, Lawrence. The Future of Ideas. New York : Random House, 2001. eBook. <https://engl382fall2013.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/lessig_foi.pdf&gt;.

Kant, Immanuel. “What is Enlightment?.” n. page. Web. 4 Sep. 2013. <https://engl382fall2013.wordpress.com/readings/what-is-enlightenment/&gt;.

Wilson, Jocelyn. “Copyright Infringement and .” Valley News. N.p., 23 August 2013. Web. 4 Sep 2013. <http://www.vnews.com/lifetimes/8174189-95/copyright-infringement-and-blurred-lines&gt;

https://engl382fall2013.wordpress.com/readings/00-previous-readings/areopagitica/

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2 thoughts on “Is Blurred Lines a Copyright?

  1. Savanna,

    This is good, and it’s *really* close to passing, but you forgot to cite Milton! Think about this for a second: To what extent does Milton value “originality”? Does the freedom he describes assume it or depend on it?

    Get Milton in there when you get a chance. You have until Sept 31 to complete revisions, but I suggest you complete your revisions well in advance of that date, just in case.

    M

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