Legal ding-dong rages on
A huge hit since its release earlier this year, the song prompted criticism from both Gaye’s family and Bridgeport Music, which owns the rights to US band Funkadelic’s music. They have alleged that ‘Blurred Lines’ steals from Gaye’s song ‘Got To Give It Up’ and the Funkadelic track ‘Sexy Ways’.
It was previously suggested that both Gaye’s family and Bridgeport were threatening litigation unless they received financial compensation for the perceived copyright violation. Now, as Billboard reports, Thicke, Williams and TI (real name Clifford Harris Jr) have filed a pre-emptive lawsuit of their own against both parties in order to determine their rights.
The suit reads: “Plaintiffs, who have the utmost respect and admiration for Marvin Gaye, Funkadelic and their musical legacies, reluctantly file this action in the face of multiple adverse claims from alleged successors in interest to those artists. Defendants continue to insist that plaintiffs’ massively successful composition, ‘Blurred Lines’, copies ‘their’ compositions.”
The trio also allege that they have been wrongly accused of copying ‘Got To Give It Up’ as the “Gaye defendants are claiming ownership of an entire genre, as opposed to a specific work”. In regard to ‘Sexy Ways’, meanwhile, they say “there are no similarities between plaintiffs’ composition and those the claimants allege they own, other than commonplace musical elements. Plaintiffs created a hit and did it without copying anyone else’s composition.”
The suit also argues that “being reminiscent of a ‘sound’ is not copyright infringement’ and that “the intent in producing ‘Blurred Lines’ was to evoke an era” rather than a specific song. Thicke, Williams and Harris Jr also want a confirmation that Gaye’s family don’t have a strong enough claim to ‘Got To Give It Up’s copyright to claim infringement, as well as a ruling that the song doesn’t violate any of the defendants’ rights.
‘Blurred Lines’ has proved controversial due to both its lyrics and video, both have which have been dubbed sexist. However, Thicke has insisted that the track is “respectful”. and was designed to provoke a debate about relationships between men and women, as well as describing its video as a “feminist movement within itself”.
Blurred Lines’ has recently become the 137th single in the 60-year history of the British charts to sell over a million copies in the UK – and Vampire Weekend and Queens Of The Stone Age have both covered it.