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'Blurred Lines' Lawsuit: Marvin Gaye Family Now Claims Robin Thicke Stole Two Songs

By The Hollywood Reporter | 10/30/2013, 3:50 p.m.
The children of the late Marvin Gaye responded today in US District Court to the lawsuit that was filed against ...
Marvin Gaye

NEW YORK, Oct. 30, 2013 /PRNewswire/ - The children of the late Marvin Gaye responded today in US District Court to the lawsuit that was filed against them by Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and Clifford Harris, Jr., according to Mark Levinsohn, the NY entertainment attorney who represents Nona and Frankie Gaye in transactional matters. In that initial suit, filed on August 15, 2013, Thicke and his "Blurred Lines" collaborators sued to stop any claims they thought the children of Marvin Gaye may or would have against their intentional copyright infringement of the Marvin Gaye song "Got to Give it Up." As Zoe Chace for National Public Radio stated on the NPR website on August 19, 2013: "Robin Thicke's Song Sounds Like Marvin Gaye. So He's Suing Gaye's Family."

The "Blurred Lines" trio rushed to file their case soon after their song began attracting overwhelming attention from critics and fans about the substantial similarities that surpass the realm of coincidence to "Got to Give it Up." On August 8, 2013 Rob Hoerburger in the New York Times wrote "But what I keep coming back to is the song's choice DNA...And that bass line came right from Marvin Gaye's No. 1 hit from the summer of '77, 'Got to Give It Up'." In the August 23, 2013 issue of Rolling Stone Magazine, Contributor David Ritz wrote, "When I first heard Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines,' my reaction was the same as millions of other R&B fans: Hey, that's Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up." Thicke and company not only copped Gaye's distinct bass line, but the defining funk of the cowbell accents. I wasn't entirely surprised, since some years earlier Thicke's 'Love After War' was a virtual lift of Marvin's 'After the Dance' ..." A quick review of the internet reveals these comments are far from alone in this respect.

Indeed, the three writers filed their lawsuit against Gaye's children shortly after the numerous "Got to Give it Up" similarities started surfacing and just weeks after all the online chat rooms were abuzz with discussions of the two songs, including fan postings of musical mash-ups that demonstrated the overlapping comparisons. As music critic Paul Cantor pointed out on Vice Magazine's website in July 2013, "You probably don't feel guilty for liking 'Blurred Lines.' Maybe that's because it was originally a Marvin Gaye song ("Got To Give It Up") and Marvin Gaye is ... awesome."

Initially Gaye's children assumed that Thicke and Williams had obtained the proper license from EMI/SONY to use their father's song "Got to Give it Up" when they decided to deliberately recreate the very essence of the song with "Blurred Lines", but they were sadly mistaken.

Although representatives for the parties had ongoing discussions about the copying and possibility of a settlement, there was never any monetary offer made by Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams or their representatives to the Gaye family for use of the copyright, as erroneously reported by Billboard Magazine in August 2013. Instead, Thicke decided to wage a very contradictory public denial about his creative intentions and file a preemptive strike against any claims by the family. On July 9, 2013 he told Billboard Magazine, "Pharrell and I were in the studio making a couple records, and then on the third day I told him I wanted to do something kinda like Marvin Gaye's 'Got To Give It Up,' that kind of feel 'cause it's one of my favorite songs of all time. So he started messing with some drums and then he started going 'Hey, hey hey..' and about an hour and a half later we had the whole record finished." However, by September 2013 Thicke back peddled and did a one-eighty, telling TMZ that even though he's a big fan of Marvin Gaye, the Motown legend is not in his head when he writes songs, including "Blurred Lines."