Marvin Gaye’s Heirs Win $7.4 Million for ‘Blurred Lines’ Plagiarism!

Posted by | January 01, 2015 | Industry News | 3 Comments


Plagiarism occurs frequently in literature and books, but you don’t often notice it in musical writing unless you pay close attention to the music and are familiar with it. But, that still doesn’t stop some musical artists from trying to copy another musician’s beats and melodies. Recently the heirs of Marvin Gaye were awarded $7.4 million after winning a plagiarism lawsuit against recording artists known as Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke. A civil jury believed they committed plagiarism against the late soul singer with their very popular “Blurred Lines” song. The court believed that many elements from the song were taken from Gaye’s 1977 hit song “Got to Give it Up.” The heirs of Gaye received $ 4 million in damages from the plagiarism and an additional $3.4 million from the profits made by Williams and Thicke.
Over the years there have been other lawsuits formed by the heirs of Gaye’s estate, which primarily consist of his children. Rapper T.I. and a few other music recording companies had been sued by the estate, but they were cleared of any copyright infringement claims. But, Thicke and Williams were not so lucky. It is just very clear that their song is similar to Gaye’s song. Under United States Copyright laws, someone is guilty of copyright infringement if their work is significantly similar to someone else’s work. However, no one can copyright an idea or concept. So if someone wanted to write a song that was about the same topic as another person’s song, they would not be guilty of copyright infringement as long as their work was original. The same goes for the musical elements as well.
Pharrell Williams, who was the producer of Blurred Lines, acknowledged in court that he has been a fan of Gaye’s music since he was a child, but he claimed that “Got to Give it Up” and “Blurred Lines” were only similar by its genre. The defendants claimed the musical melodies only had a strong resemblance to each other. But the plaintiff pointed out there were several occasions where the musical melodies sounded the same and that it was a direct copy of Gaye’s song.
There are groups of people who may agree with both sides. It is really up to people’s interpretation on what they think. The defendants did not claim to plagiarize Gaye’s work, but the heirs of Gaye believe otherwise. Perhaps the defendants were inspired by Gaye’s work and subconsciously implemented his tunes into their own song. This case should be a lesson to all musicians that their music has to come directly from them and nowhere else.

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