Some time ago we reported on the copyright verdict entered against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams for their infringing work found in the pop song Blurred Lines.
Editor’s Note: The jury in that case found that Blurred Lines infringed on Marvin Gaye’s Got to Give It Up (1977).
You can read that prior blog here. The case is now up on appeal and interestingly, a number of prominent musicians have joined in and signed papers supporting Thicke’s and Williams’ appeal including, Tool, Rivers Cuomo, R. Kelly, Danger Mouse and members of Earth, Wind & Fire. In fact, over 200 musicians have joined in including John Oates, Linkin Park, Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump, Tears for Fears’ Curt Smith, Juicy J, the Go-Go’s, Frank Ocean collaborator Malay, Jennifer Hudson, and Train’s Patrick Monahan to name a few.
The position advocated by these artists is that Blurred Lines and Got to Give It Up have completely different melodies and song structures and do not share any lyrics or “a sequence of even two chords played in the same order and for the same duration.” Despite that, the court found that Blurred Lines substantially copied Gaye’s track. In their brief supporting the appeal the musicians’ representatives wrote:
“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. The law should provide clearer rules so that songwriters can know when the line is crossed, or at least where the line. One can only imagine what our music would have sounded like if David Bowie would have been afraid to draw from Shirley Bassey, or if the Beatles would have been afraid to draw from Chuck Berry, or if Elton John would have been afraid to draw from the Beatles, or if Elvis Presley would have been afraid to draw from his many influences.”
We will keep an eye on how this appeal turns out but for now it appears that the Blurred Lines camp might be winning in the court of public opinion among musicians.