Blurred Copyright Lines Between Robin Thicke’s Tune and Marvin Gaye’s Estate?

Billboard.com reported on August 15, 2013 that Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and Clifford Harris, Jr. (aka T.I.) filed a peremptory lawsuit in California federal court against Marvin Gaye’s family and Bridgeport Music, which owns some of Funkadelic’s compositions. At issue are complaints about similarities between “Blurred Lines” and Gaye’s “Got To Give it Up”.

Photo appears at potholesinmyblogIn the trio’s lawsuit of Williams, Thicke & Harris v. Bridgeport Music, Gaye et al., they argued: “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. Defendants continue to insist that plaintiffs’ massively successful composition, ‘Blurred Lines,’ copies ‘their’ compositions.”

Billboard.com reports further on August 23rd that the defendants rejected a six-figure settlement offer that came shortly after the lawsuit was filed:

“According to sources knowledgeable with the lawsuit, the settlement offer came after Frankie Christian Gaye, Marvin Gaye III and Nona Marvisa Gaye accused Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” hit single of plagiarizing “Got To Give it Up,” written and composed by Marvin Gaye, who died in 1984.”

In the court of public opinion, many fans of both artists pick up the similarities. The legal question is whether similarities are “substantially” so as a matter of law and whether the trio copied from the original unlawfully.

Only time will tell. Most of these cases settle out of court. But in light of the bright line drawn in the sand by Thicke and his co-composers and the value of Marvin Gaye’s copyrights and family’s reaction both to the song and the lawsuit, this is just the type of suit that could actually play out in the courtroom.

What do you think about the song? Similar? Substantially so? Check out the video mashup and share your two cents in the comments section:

Link to the video mashup of Marvin Gaye & Robin Thicke at Vimeo.com

UPDATE 10/30/2013: New information about the legal wrangling between Thicke et al and the Gaye Estate

*Thanks to C. Zittle and T. Danon from my Copyright & Trademark class for this Hot Topic*

Olympic champ Lochte v. Rapper Eiht?? The trademark tug of war over JEAH! [SMH]

So you won’t often see me use TMZ as a viable source for my blog posts (especially when they misstate in the title the legal issue as one about copyright when it really involves trademark … but I digress [click here to learn the difference between copyright and trademark]). I just read the TMZ blog post about Ryan Lochte’s attempt to register his purported catch phrase “JEAH!” (like “YEAH” but with a J … but again, I digress).

So here’s TMZ’s explanation of the intellectual property hoopla between Lochte and Eiht:

“U.S. Olympic hero Ryan Lochte might have an unexpected speed bump on his way to trademarking the phrase “Jeah!”`in the form of 90s rap star MC Eiht, who claims the phrase was his long before it was Lochte’s.

Eiht tells TMZ he coined the phrase back in 1988 and is insulted to hear Lochte is trying to claim it as his own now. Eiht tells us, “Why try and trademark something his ass didn’t even create? I am mad that he isn’t giving me proper recognition for taking my saying. He is just disrespectful.”

[**blink blink** um … okay … not exactly the type of legal theory I teach in my class but **shrug**]

Read the full article at: http://www.tmz.com/2012/08/18/ryan-lochte-mc-eiht-jeah-copyright/#ixzz242WrTdPJ

UPDATE: Widener Law’s Entertainment Law Students Reflect on Skills & the Law

Source: Harrisburg Correspondent Erica Scavone (Spring 2012) law.widener.edu

Students from "The Dumas Firm" in class exercise

Now that the semester is quickly coming to a close, my entertainment law students reflect in a recent interview on their experiences. They note the skills they’ve learned and the legal doctrine they’ve mastered during the process; from privacy to piracy to a “virtual practice” and everything in between:

“Arrielle Millstein of wRap JhAM Associates says, “Professor Evans introducing our Entertainment Law class to blogging on legal topics has opened my eyes. With the state of the job market, applicants need a beefed up resume to even get an interview, I think that Professor Evans really provided us with the knowledge and experience on how to create and ‘market’ ourselves through an effective blog allowing future employers prior to interviews to know that we know and keep up with a specific area of law.” Continue reading “UPDATE: Widener Law’s Entertainment Law Students Reflect on Skills & the Law”