Musicians sue to protect copyright despite legal blurred lines
For those who listen to pop music, it can be impossible these days to avoid hearing the extremely popular song “Blurred Lines” on the radio here in Florida or through internet streaming services. The success of the song and its entertaining video have propelled musicians Robin Thicke, Pharell Williams and Clifford Harris, Jr. – better known as rapper T.I. – to the forefront of this summer’s music scene. However, recent questions regarding the originality of the hit record have prompted the trio to file a lawsuit to protect their copyright interests.
According to the lawsuit, the family of famous musician Marvin Gaye has threatened to sue for royalties associated with the song because the family believes the popular song is too similar to Gaye’s hit “Got to Give It Up.” In addition, the band Funkadelic and related musical legacies have questioned similarity to their song “Sexy Ways.”
However, instead of waiting for either Gaye’s family or Funkadelic to sue, the trio went ahead and filed their own lawsuit to help determine everyone’s rights and obligations in relation to the songs in question – asking for a judgment that would declare no copyrights have been violated, among other things.
For musicians, protecting their copyrights can be one of the most important business matters they may have to deal with. Certainly, there is a large gray area as to what constitutes infringement and what may merely be common musical elements – such as the “sound” of a particular genre. Because the final answer on which side of this area a song may fall could greatly affect the current and future earnings of entertainers, it can be important to take proactive steps to protect one’s interest and strongly advocate for a favorable outcome.
While it may take a while to resolve these legal questions regarding the all-too-appropriately titled hit song, the story highlights the importance of understanding entertainment law and proactively addressing copyright questions rather than waiting to respond to a copyright infringement lawsuit.
Source: Hollywood Reporter, “Robin Thicke Sues to Protect ‘Blurred Lines’ from Marvin Gaye’s Family (Exclusive),” Eriq Gardner, Aug. 15, 2013