AirTalk for November 4, 2013

Marvin Gaye’s family sues Robin Thicke over 'Blurred Lines'

2013 BET Awards - Show

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for BET

Singer Robin Thicke performs onstage during the 2013 BET Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on June 30, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.

Looks like the lines are blurred when it comes to copyright infringement of the popular summer hit, “Blurred Lines.” Marvin Gaye’s family is suing Robin Thicke and producer Pharrell Williams claiming they stole the musical composition of Marvin Gaye to make the song, “Blurred Lines.”

This new suit was actually filed as a counter-claim to another case that Thicke and Williams tried to establish with the court that the song did not infringe on Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit, “Got to Give it up.” In the suit, the children of Marvin Gaye use evidence pointing to interviews in which Thicke openly admitted to drawing inspiration from “Got to Give it up,” to record his song.

This is not the only song the Gaye family is accusing Thicke of infringing on. The family also cites Thicke’s 2011 song, “Love After War,” saying it copies, Gaye’s 1976 song, “After the Dance.” The family is seeking damages up to $150,000 for each copyright infringement, as well as a portion of profits from both songs. 

Do you think the songs sound similar? Where are the lines drawn between inspiration and copyright infringement?  Is being reminisce of a “sound” grounds for infringement? Who do you think should win this case?

Guest:

Robert Fink, Professor of Musicology, UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music


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