August 16, 2013


Robin Thicke, Pharrell & T.I. Sue Marvin Gaye's Family Over "Blurred Lines"

Rob Kim
Rob Kim

In what arguably amounts to a preemptive lawsuit, Robin Thicke, Pharrell and T.I. are suing the family of Marvin Gaye and Bridgeport Music—a company that owns much of Funkadelic's catalog—in the face of alleged claims that "Blurred Lines" copies songs from Gaye and Funkadelic.

Critics have already noted the sonic similarities between "Blurred Lines" and Gaye's 1977 hit "Got To Give It Up," and the estate of Marvin Gaye seemingly took notice. This lawsuit alleges that Gaye's family contacted Thicke, Pharrell and T.I. claiming their summer hit infringes on copyrighted material. The lawsuit also says Bridgeport Music made a similar claim about "Blurred Lines" and Funkadelic's 1974 song "Sexy Ways."

"The 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," the suit reads. "The defendants continue to insist that plaintiffs' massively successful composition, 'Blurred Lines,' copies 'their' compositions."

So instead of waiting to be sued, Thicke, Pharrell and T.I. are filing a lawsuit to protect "Blurred Lines" in the face of alleged litigation threats from Gaye's family and Bridgeport Music. According to the plaintiffs, "Blurred Lines" has nothing in common with "Got to Give It Up" and "Sexy Ways" aside from "commonplace musical elements."

"Blurred Lines" isn't the first song allegedly inspired by Gaye's composition. Critics have long noted similarities between "Got To Give It Up" and Michael Jackson's compositions "Don’t Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)," but no lawsuit was ever filed against Jackson.

Worth noting: Bridgeport Music was the plaintiff in a precedent-setting copyright violation case in 2005, where they successfully argued that an N.W.A track illegally sampled a Funkadelic tune.