The Farr Side: Lines are blurred with theft of Marvin Gaye’s classic groove
Stealing is stealing, no matter how much Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and rapper T.I. try to blur the lines. The fact remains – “Blurred Lines” is a blatant rip-off of the late Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up.”
I love “Blurred Lines.” I still start grooving when it plays. It’s infectious, fun and just plain good. It’s no wonder the song spent an unprecedented 12 weeks atop Billboard’s Hot 100 in 2013.
But it was that kind of success that drew even more attention, especially the groove’s familiarity. I’ve long thought I recognized the beat but could not put my finger on it. But while uploading my CD collection to my iTunes account, I figured it out. I downloaded my Marvin Gaye’s “#1’s,” and “Got To Give It Up” is the first track. I heard it play again and was like, “What? This is ‘Blurred Lines.’”
Sure enough, I played “Blurred Lines” and it was obvious to me. There was that catchy little beat you just can’t resist.
After some research, I learned that Gaye’s estate made a claim that Thicke and Williams stole the music from Gaye. I can’t believe Thicke didn’t think to credit Gaye on the single. What a stupid move!
Gaye’s fans had to know this right away about the similarities on “Blurred Lines.” I’m only sorry I didn’t put two and two together sooner. I’m usually pretty good about noticing stuff like that, especially when it’s as obvious as this.
The jury verdict is requiring Thicke and Williams to pay $7.3 million to Gaye’s estate. That might sound like a lot of money, but due to the song’s massive success, it’s warranted.
Some people don’t feel Thicke and Williams should have to pay that much. I disagree. It’s copyright infringement. If the judge wouldn’t have been so harsh, this kind of thing would happen more and more.
Gaye’s life was tragically cut short April 1, 1984. It only seems fitting that his life’s work be protected and preserved.
Gaye’s children’ Nona Gaye, Frankie Gaye and Marvin Gaye III are not stopping yet, either. The judge’s decision didn’t take into account future sales and royalties of “Blurred Lines.” Lawyers for Gaye’s family say they may need to relitigate the infringement every three years. I think it would be imperative for Thicke and Williams to negotiate a writing credit for Gaye to prevent further legal battles and to keep the song available for purchase.
This case reminds me so much of “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice and Queen/David Bowie’s “Under Pressure.” I remember Vanilla Ice on MTV trying to show how the songs were completely different. What a dork. It was the same backing music on both tracks. He only made himself look foolish.
Copyright infringement is a crime. This case needs to be handled with due process, since its outcome could have an adverse affect on the entertainment industry if not dealt with correctly and fairly. Otherwise, we might see several artists blur the lines to make a hit song just because they think they can get away with it.
David T. Farr is a Sturgis, Michigan,Journal correspondent. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.