Stevie Wonder has commented on the ‘Blurred Lines’ vs ‘Got To Give It Up’ court case. The music legend says the court made the wrong decision.
“I don’t think it’s a steal from Marvin Gaye,” Wonder told TMZ. “I’ve been through lawsuits for songs and all that. I think that the groove is very similar but you have to remember he is a big fan of Marvin Gaye’s so that’s okay. But the song is not like Marvin Gaye’s. It is not the same”.
Earlier this week Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were ordered to pay the family of Marvin Gaye $7.4 million for ripping of Gaye’s 70s soul classic ‘Got To Give It Up’ with their 2014 hit ‘Blurred Lines’.
Wonder doesn’t think the ruling was the end and that next time it could get ugly for the Gaye family. “If the family should hear this, don’t let your lawyer get you into losing money on some of the crap out there,” he said.
Williams and Thicke will now seek an appeal.
Howard King, acting for Williams and Thicke, said in a statement, “We owe it to song writers around the world to make sure this verdict doesn’t stand,” King said. “My clients know that they wrote the song ‘Blurred Lines’ from their hearts and souls and no other source.”
The Gaye family is currently investigating the similarity between Pharrell Williams’ ‘Happy’ and Marvin Gaye’s ‘Ain’t That Peculiar’. That in itself is bizarre as Gaye didn’t write the song. Pete Moore, William “Smokey” Robinson, Bobby Rogers and Marv Tarplin are listed as the writers of the song recorded by Marvin Gaye in 1965.
“Pharrell has readily admitted that Marvin Gaye is one of his idols, but it’s silk and rayon,” King said in his statement. “If this is the way the law is going to go, then the creator of rayon better look behind him for lawsuits from the owners of silk, because, even though they feel the same they are structurally, completely different just like these songs.”
The Gaye vs Thicke case has set an interesting precedent for songwriters. Similarities between Iggy Pop’s ‘Lust For Life’ (written by David Bowie) and Jet ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’ could develop into legal arguments. Derivative band Airbourne and Wolfmother could face legal action from AC/DC or Black Sabbath. AC/DC could face legal action from Chuck Berry. The list goes one.
The most high-profile plagiarism case was The Chiffons vs George Harrison over ‘My Sweet Lord’. That end was result was that George lost the case but the ending had a twist, he ended up owning the song he “stole”.
Here is an except from my 1993 interview with George Harrison explaining the case:
Paul Cashmere: How do you feel about “My Sweet Lord” these days. How did the court case surrounding that song effect your songwriting?
George Harrison: It didn’t really affect my songwriting. I did record “This Song,” which was kind of a comment about the situation. The thing that really disappoints me is when you have a relationship with one person and they turn out to betray you. Because the whole story of “My Sweet Lord” is based upon this fellow, Allan Klein, who managed the Beatles from about 1968 or ’69, through until 1973. When they issued a complaint about “My Sweet Lord”, he was my business manager. He was the one who put out “My Sweet Lord” and collected 20 percent commission on the record. And he was the one who got the lawyers to defend me, and did an interview in Playboy where he talked about how the song was nothing like the other song. Later, when the judge in court told me to settle with them, because he didn’t think I’d consciously stolen their song, they were doing a settlement deal with me when they suddenly stopped the settlement. Some time elapsed, and I found out that this guy Klein had gone around the back door. In the meantime, we’d fired him. He went round the back door and bought the rights to the one song, “He’s So Fine,” in order to continue a law suit against me. He, on one hand, was defending me, then he switched sides and continued the law suit. And every time the judge said what the result was, he’d appeal. And he kept appealing and appealing until it got to the Supreme Court. I mean this thing went on for 16 years or something … 18 years. And finally, it’s all over with, and the result of it is I own “My Sweet Lord,” and I now own “He’s So Fine,” and Allan Klein owes me like three or four hundred thousand dollars ’cause he took all the money on both songs. It’s really a joke. It’s a total joke.
Paul Cashmere: There’s a movie plot in there somewhere.
George Harrison: There’s definitely a book, because, now with any kind of law pertaining to infringement of copyright, they always quote this case. It’s become the precedent in all these law students’ books.
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