There is some new fuel on the fire that is the battle between Marvin Gaye's family and Robin Thicke, Pharell Williams, and T.I. The fight over the likeness of several of Thicke's songs to Marvin Gaye's began with summer smash "Blurred Lines" sounding a little to close to Gaye's "Got to Give it Up", but has gone on to include "Love After War", which they claim resembles "After the Dance", according to Billboard.
Now, there is a new defendant in the the family's fight to keep Marvin Gaye's music, well, Marvin Gaye's. That would be EMI April, the song publisher now owned by Sony/ATV that has business relationships with both sides. They filed a counterclaim which states primarily that EMI has breached a contract and its fiduciary duty by failing to protect Gaye's songs, attempting to intimidate the family against filing any legal action, failing to remain neutral when faced with a conflict of interest and attempting to turn public opinion against the family. The penalty for those acts, says the Gaye family, should be that EMI loses all profits on "Blurred Lines" as well as rights to administer the song catalog of Gaye.
EMI is the co-publisher of producing superstar Pharell Williams and is said to co-own and control "Blurred Lines." The Gaye family owns rights to "Got to Give It Up" and "After the Dance," but says it has assigned the rights to administer and protect those copyrights to EMI. These facts create a pretty serious conflict of interest.
In the suit, Gaye's family also claims that EMI's "misconduct" includes failing to identify and raise claims based on entrusted Marvin Gaye copyrights, and after allegedly admitting that a claim was viable, "subsequently instructing its litigation attorney to intimidate the Gaye Family from filing an action by antagonistically warning that any lawsuit would be frivolous."
Specifically, the Gaye family claims that the chairman of EMI contacted its legal representative and bullied the family, accusing the family of "ruining an incredible song," "killing the goose that laid the golden egg" and being responsible for "Blurred Lines" not receiving an MTV Video Music Award. He also allegedly complained that the lawsuit might kill any chances that Thicke would win a Grammy Award for Song of the Year.
After the bullying and the defense of EMI around their "goose", Robin Thicke, one of the things that the Gaye family is fighting for is the rescission of their contract with EMI. They have had enough and they want out. Their court documents state, "there is a strong likelihood that conflicts of interest, such as the one in the present case, will arise again between the EMI Defendants and the Gaye Family."
It goes on to say that "...the EMI Defendants have proven that they cannot be trusted to remain neutral and impartial, and that they are unworthy of the level of trust and professional conduct which is required of a copyright administrator charged with protecting the Gaye Family’s important interests in copyrighted works created by Marvin Gaye."
Ouch. This looks to be an ongoing battle that could last a while.
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