Blurred Lines Controversy (REVISED)

Robin Thicke has taken his “Blurred Lines” case to court for a judge to determine whether or not the hit ripped off Marvin Gaye’s song “Got to Give it Up.” Recently, Gaye’s Family tried to sue Thicke for copyright infringement and Thicke is striking back. I listened to both songs, and there are definitely some common musical themes between the two pieces. But in my opinion, there are not enough similarities to constitute a law suite.
As a photographer, I know firsthand what an important role inspiration plays in creating my photos. I could point out several similarities between my work and other photographer’s work, but is that to say that I infringed upon their rights? I don’t think so. I really enjoyed a quote by Guggenheim cited in “The future of Ideas” by Lessig (A cited work within a cited work..very inception-esqe I know..) “The cost for me is creativity. Suddenly the world that you’re trying to create is completely generic and void of the elements that you would normally create.” If our laws continue to get more and more restrictive, we will see creativity continue to decline. Kant advocates freedom as well in his essay titled “what is enlightenment?”. He says “But should a society of ministers, say a Church Council,have the right to commit itself by oath to a certain unalterable doctrine, in order to secure perpetual guardianship over all its members and through them over the people? I say that this is quite impossible.” Kant wasn’t talking specifically about copyrights in this essay, but his ideas are definitely applicable to modern day issues, including copyright. Should our government have the right to have guardianship over all of us through an”unalterable doctrine” of copyright? In my opinion, definitely not to the degree of that is present today.

Milton seems to have very different views from Kant regarding copyright according to his speech titled “Areopagitica.” He says “No order or Declaration of both, or either House of Parliament shall be printed by any, but by order of one or both the said Houses: Nor other Book, Pamphlet, paper, nor part of any such Book, Pamphlet, or paper shall from henceforth be printed, bound, stitched or put to sale by any person or persons whatsoever, unless the same be first approved of and licensed under the hands of such person or persons as both, or either of the said Houses shall appoint for the licensing of the same, and entred in the Register Book of the Company of Stationers, according to ancient custom, and the Printer thereof to put his name thereto.”
After coming from an era of absolutely no copyrights, plagiarism was running rampant and something needed to change. If I was in Milton’s position at that time, I probably would have stood with him regarding the individual’s creative rights. However, this is a very different day in age. Judging from this law suit, it seems to me that individual’s views of what the copyright laws mean have gotten far too rigid. Though this kind of law is very much a gray area, I think we should evaluate, and possibly reduce, the laws we have in place today. Or, somehow simply clarify what this law means.

    After taking a class on media law and doing some research online regarding copyright infringement, the lines are very blurred in this area of law. states that “The distinction between what is fair use and what is infringement in a particular case will not always be clear or easily defined.” In general, the Internet audience seems to side with Thicke on this issue, most saying that he was just exercising his creative freedom in the piece. I would hardly want the world to become over controlled by copyrights, becoming a generic, sterile place with no signs of creativity or life. Therefore, I believe that the Gaye family needs to accept the hefty settlement offered by Thicke and let the case go.



(Milton) <a

(articles about the case)


2 thoughts on “Blurred Lines Controversy (REVISED)

  1. Christianna,

    This is very good and is very close to being graded Satisfactory, but there are a few things you need to fix. First of all, there are far too many grammatical errors in the piece. You should revise and proofread carefully — start by pasting it into MS Word and running the grammar check.

    Second, you need to say a bit more about Milton and Kant. You talk about each of their essays as if their essays were about copyright. But they aren’t — at least not directly. Both are concerned with “freedom” more generally. How are Milton’s and Kant’s concerns different from yours? You need to make it clear that you understand this in order to explain how their ideas support your own. — Also, at one point you refer to Lawrence Lessig as John Milton. This is a major red flag that suggests you didn’t read the texts as carefully as you needed to for this assignment.

    Also: you include links at the bottom of the page, but you don’t explain what parts of your essay come from where. You need to cite your sources with links in the text (not just at the bottom).

    Bottom line: good work so far, but you need to go back to the course readings and really think about how the ideas of “freedom” expressed by these various writers relate to your example.

    You have until Sept 31 to complete revisions, but I strongly suggest you complete your revisions well in advance of that date.


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