Robin Thicke Blurs the Lines Between Copyright Infringement and Inspiration

While Robin Thicke’s hit song “Blurred Lines” may not be on the radio as much as it used to be, almost everyone has heard it. The song rose to instant success, due largely to its controversial lyrics and catchy hook. Blurred Lines may remind some people of another song: “Got to Give It Up” by Marvin Gaye. These people would include the members of Gaye’s estate, who filed suit against Thicke earlier this year.

Thicke has admitted that the songs are similar. In an interview, he explained that he was discussing Got to Give It Up with Pharrell Williams, who is also featured in the song, as they wrote Blurred Lines read this article. Thicke told Pharrell that Got to Give It Up was one of his favorite songs, and that “we should make something like that, something with that groove.” The finished product does, in fact, have a similar groove. However, Thicke later denied thinking about the song while composing his hit. This seems to point to Thicke’s knowledge of his wrongdoing; a California District Court thought so too.

Thicke and Williams filed a Motion for Summary Judgment with the court, which was denied on November 6, 2014. The court stated that there appeared to be enough evidence for the Gaye estate to move forward. Additionally, the court found that the “defendants have made a sufficient showing that elements of ‘Blurred Lines’ may be substantially similar to protected, original elements featured in Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got To Give It Up.’” Specifically, the judge noted that the bass and vocal lines, the melodies, and the harmonies were incredibly similar.

While Thicke and Williams have received extensive and positive attention from Blurred Lines, it seems as though this case could also attract unwanted negative press to the song. Thicke has also stated, during sword testimony, it was Williams who actually wrote the song, and that he merely took credit for it. While the song dominated the music scene last summer, it seems this suit might capture the attention of Thicke’s fans this winter. The case is set for trial on February 10, 2015.