Robin Thicke, Pharrell, and T.I, recently filed a lawsuit against Marvin Gaye’s family as well as Bridgeport music. Uptownmagazine.com claims that the artists filed the suit after being informed that they would have to pay a settlement for copy right infringement for the single Blurred Lines. Gaye’s family says that Blurred Lines sounds similar to Marvin Gaye’s Got to Give it up. Bridgeport Music also argues that the hit single infringes the Funkadelic song Sexy Ways. Thicke admitted to Newyorkpost.com that he wanted a song that had the “groove” of Gaye’s Got to give it up, but by no means did he copy any element or part of Gaye’s work.
The copyright infringement law states that to establish copy right infringement in a court of law a copyright owner must establish proof of ownership of the infringing work, and proof of copying. Gaye’s family would have to provide proof that the artists had access to the original work, and that it is substantially similar to Gaye’s Got to Give it up. I believe it will be easy for the family to prove that Thicke had access to Gaye’s song because YouTube has many songs online for free. Lessig states in his book, “A resource held in “common” is “free”…in most cases the common is a resource to which anyone within relevant community has a right without obtaining the permission of anyone else.” Therefore Thicke could have listened to Gaye’s song on YouTube which is a public forum for everyone.
If Thick, Pharrell, and T.I are found in violation of the copyright law gawker.com says that the artists will owe the Gaye family along with Bridgeport music a six figure settlement. Gawker.com also says that the artists want to clear up the legal issues as soon as possible so that they can license the song to films, and advertising. Overall in my opinion it is clear that the issue at hand is about money because the accused “infringement” is not damaging the Gaye family’s reputation. I also believe that the Gaye family feels entitled to money that is not theirs simply because Robin released a statement that he wanted his song to have the “groove” of Got to give it up. I agree with Immanuel Kant that, “a large degree of civic freedom appears to be of advantage to the intellectual freedom of the people, yet at the same time it establishes insurmountable barriers” (p.5). For Robin Thicke his intellectual freedom to create a song with a certain groove proved to be of advantage when his song topped the charts to number one on the billboard’s top one hundred chart. However, at the same time Thicke’s intellectual freedom hindered him, and caused legal issues because Gaye’s family accused him of copy right infringement.
I maybe musically challenged but I truly had to listen to the songs repeatedly, and even play them together in unison to get an understanding of how the songs may sound alike. I understand that Gaye’s family is upset because they believe that Robin has infringed their rights. But in all honesty I cannot hear the similarity between the two songs. Jaia Thomas writer for Uptownmagazine.com also agrees with me stating that she “cannot hear the resemblance.” On the other hand Everett Cork a music industry insider released a statement to Uptown Magazine stating that, “for anyone not to notice the similarity is truly beyond my comprehension.” Clearly Cork agrees with Gaye’s family. Furthermore I believe that if Thicke’s song sounds similar to Gaye’s it should be okay; as long as the music and words are not identical. Milton’s article states, “The law must needs be frivolous which goes to restrain things” (p.4). In other words the law must be considerate when placing a restraint on things. The law should take into consideration that the copy right laws place a huge restraint on artist’s intellectual creativity when they are trying to produce modern day music with an old school feel. In my opinion the infringement brought up against Thicke is unfair, simply because he was trying to be creative, and it is not like the song sounds exactly like Gaye’s.