As you may already know, Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and T.I.‘s 2013 summer hit “Blurred Lines” stirred up controversy when the songwriters (Thicke and Williams) were accused of stealing material from Marvin Gaye’s 1973 song “Got To Give It Up” and had to battle in court. While there are similarities between the two in terms of beats and chords, the songs do not have similar melodies, and the songwriters deny that they copied it, although they do acknowledge that they were inspired by songs of the ’70s.
According to a Time article last year, Pharrell testified:
“I must’ve been channeling that feeling, that late-’70s feeling…Sometimes when you look back on your past work, you see echoes of people. But that doesn’t mean that’s what you were doing.”
Nevertheless, Marvin Gaye’s estate won more than $7 million from the judgment after months of legal drama in 2015, but it’s not over yet: Thicke, who was surprised by the ruling, and Williams have since sought to overturn the verdict, and are now backed in solidarity by more than 200 musicians, composers, songwriters and producers who filed an amicus (“friends of the court”) brief with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the judgment. They all fear the initial decision could put serious restrictions and limit creativity for all artists. Some of the biggest names included are Rivers Cuomo of Weezer, Tool, Three 6 Mafia, Linkin Park, Jennifer Hudson, Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy, R. Kelly, John Oates of Hall & Oates; Tears For Fears; Danger Mouse, Earth, Wind & Fire, and more.
The official brief states:
“The verdict in this case threatens to punish songwriters for creating new music that is inspired by prior works. All music shares inspiration from prior musical works, especially within a particular musical genre. By eliminating any meaningful standard for drawing the line between permissible inspiration and unlawful copying, the judgment is certain to stifle creativity and impede the creative process.”
It’s also, of course, not going to be the first or last time the issue of copying vs. using inspiration will come up in court. Last year, a judge ruled that Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne should be credited on Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” due to the remarkable similarities with Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” — despite the fact that Petty had no actual involvement in its proceedings. And recently, Sleigh Bells accused Demi Lovato of sampling their percussion from “Infinity Guitars” to use in Lovato’s “Stars.”
You can read the whole appeal document at the Hollywood Reporter.
You can watch the video below: