Okay so what do we know.
We know that Robin Thicke released a song called “Blurred Lines” that ended up going nuclear all over the world. That means a lot of dough to share around.
We know that the family of Marvin Gaye have lawyered up with King and Ballow to sue Robin Thicke and song publisher EMI April/Sony/ATV for copyright infringement.
They claim that Robin Thicke committed copyright infringement on Gaye’s “After the Dance” to create his song “Love After War.”
They also claim that Thicke’s “Make U Love Me” shares a similar bridge and identical lyrics to Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You.”
They also claim that “Blurred Lines” was stolen from Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up”. To muddle the waters even more, allegations also abound that “Blurred Lines” was also derived from Funkadelic’s “Sexy Ways.”
It is pretty obvious that the family of Marvin Gaye don’t care about derivative progress. All they care about is money. This is not about protecting Marvin Gaye and his legacy. A legacy is protected by people and fans of music. By simply having the conversation that “Blurred Lines” sounds similar is proof that Marvin Gaye’s legacy is protected.
Listening to “Blurred Lines” and reading the reviews of the song, you know it got me interested to check out Marvin Gaye and that is what matters in today’s times. Are people listening to the music?
Of course this lawsuit isn’t just about copyright infringement. There is an argument put forward against EMI, about how they strong armed the Gaye family, about how they planted false stories in the media, about conflicts of interest (due to EMI controlling both copyrights), about professional misconduct and breaches of contract
Of course the argument put forward by Thicke and EMI is that the genres of the songs are the same however the notes are different and as far as they are concerned no infringement occurred.
Regardless of how people view this argument. One thing is clear.
The family of Marvin Gaye have been ill-advised. Even if they win the lawsuit, they still lose “financially” in the long run.
The only financial winners here are the attorneys.
The Gaye family will lose out in the long run because artists will stop referencing Marvin Gaye. Once people stop referencing Marvin Gaye this will then lead to people not talking about him. He will be absent from the conversation. The only reason why this has all come up, is that people have talked about the similarities. The Gaye family even used those conversations as part of their counterclaim.
So once people stop talking about someone, in time that person/artist will be forgotten.
The shenanigans carried out by the Gaye family is a far cry to what happened to Bobby Parker. For those that don’t know, Bobby Parker was a blues rock guitarist that passed away recently at the age of 76. He wrote a song called “Watch Your Step” in 1961. The song was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic.
The Beatles hit, “I Feel Fine” released in 1964 had that riff. The influence of “Watch Your Step” also extended to “Day Tripper” as well. John Lennon even stated that “I Feel Fine” and “Day Tripper” were songs built on variations of the “Watch Your Step” riff.
Led Zeppelin used the riff in “Moby Dick” released in 1968.
However, in order to show the progress is derivative effect in action, the “Watch Your Step” riff evolved from the Afro-Cuban jazz composition “Manteca.” That is what music is all about. Evolution by derivatives.
However, Bobby Parker reaped few rewards from the song’s success as he sold the copyright to V-Tone records owner Ivan Mogull for next to nothing. In other words, he didn’t know enough about copyright and he got shafted. Sound familiar. Labels shafting artists.
So all you artists that sign record deals remember this. The label owns your copyright. And guess what the labels are pushing for. Long copyright terms. Look at the massive expansion of the “Duration of Copyright Term” between 1910 and 1998. Just at the time that movie studios and record labels started to appear. Just at the time that the RIAA and the MPAA started to appear and become lobby powerhouses.
At the moment, in the US it is sitting over 100 years due to the 1998 Sonny Bono Act. To top it all off, the Copyright monopolies want longer terms. Longer terms means that our culture is all locked up. The whole point of copyright was to serve and benefit the Public while giving creators a short-term monopoly on their creations. There is nothing that is coming off copyright because Corporations own the majority of the copyrights.
Talking about riffs, what about that riff in “I Want A New Drug from Huey Lewis and the News. It was a hit twice. Once for Huey Lewis and the News and another time for Ray Parker Jr., with “Ghostbusters”!