Robin Thicke sues Marvin Gaye heirs, Funkadelic over ‘Blurred Lines’ controversy
Robin Thicke wants the world to know that “Blurred Lines” is his song. Because of this, Thicke — along with co-composers Pharrell Williams and Clifford Harris Jr. — have preemptively sued the heirs of Marvin Gaye and Bridgeport Music, the owner of some compositions by the musical group, Funkadelic.
The basis for this suit (released by The Hollywood Reporter): Both the Gaye heirs and Bridgeport have alleged that “Blurred Lines” incorporates enough from earlier compositions to constitute copyright infringement. Thus, Thicke and the others want the court to declare these allegations false before anyone can sue anyone else for damages.
Just call it a preemptive legal strike.
Filed on Thursday (Aug. 15) by lawyers representing the “Blurred Lines” composers, the suit claims that the big song of summer 2013 does not, in fact, infringe on any copyrights. In the case of the Funkadelic song, “Sexy Ways,” the lawsuit denies any true similarities whatsoever.
It’s a little more confusing with the Marvin Gaye song, “Gotta Give It Up.” Based on the wording used, it’s possible — likely even — that Thicke and the others were inspired by this particular song. But that still doesn’t count as copyright infringement: “The intent in producing ‘Blurred Lines’ was to evoke an era,” the lawsuit reads. This implies that “Blurred Lines” is more of an homage to the earlier song than any sort of copy.
Interestingly, the lawsuit leaves open the possibility of other composers and copyright holders coming forward to allege infringement on the part of “Blurred Lines.” Are Thicke’s lawyers expecting more challenges, or is this just a standard legal practice? It is hard to say. For now, only these two allegations have surfaced.
Despite filing a lawsuit that implies otherwise, Robin Thicke doesn’t seem too eager to destroy his accusers. The beginning of the suit reads as follows: “Plaintiffs, who have the utmost respect for and admiration of 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.”
Also, the suit does not ask for any specific damages to be rewarded, other than legal fees. The entire purpose of the action seems to be to preclude further action from others.
In a side note, George Clinton — the former leader of Funkadelic — has tweeted his support for Robin Thicke and not for a song he co-wrote: “No sample of #Funkadelic’s ‘Sexy Ways’ in @robinthicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ – yet Armen Boladian thinks so? We support @robinthicke @Pharrell!”