Marvin Gaye’s family won a historic lawsuit on Tuesday against Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke.
The family of Marvin Gaye claimed that the song “Blurred Lines” stole too many elements from, and sounded too much like, Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up”.
Marvin Gaye’s family won a judgement of over $7 million for using elements of “Got to Give It Up” without permission.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being inspired,” Nona Gaye, Marvin Gaye’s 40-year-old daughter, explained. “I’ve been inspired when I made music before. Inspiration’s fine, but the line is when you decide to take the complete and utter essence out of the song. When you take all the meat, and leave the bones.”
After the verdict, the family is going to enjoy their victory and rest after their long-fought battle.
“My heart started pounding but I still had faith that the verdict was going to go our way,” Janis Gaye, Marvin Gaye’s ex-wife, said of the moments just before the verdict was read. After the verdict was read, it all came rushing out.
She added, “That’s when I lost it completely. And I was filled with incredibly powerful emotion.”
Now that the victory is in the bag for Marvin Gaye’s family, they say they might just take a closer listen to Pharrell Williams’ incredibly popular song, “Happy”.
Marvin Gaye’s family says that the song sounds a lot like Marvin Gaye’s hit, “Ain’t That Peculiar”.
Nona Gaye said of the two songs, “I’m not going to lie. I do think they sound alike.”
I don’t know, that seems like a stretch to me.
But, the family is not quite ready to start over again with another lawsuit just yet.
She said, “We’re not in that space.”
Janis Gaye said, “We’re just in the moment today and we’re satisfied.”
She added, “I heard the mash-ups — but I didn’t really need to hear them. I know ‘Ain’t That Peculiar’ and I’ve heard ‘Happy’.”
The victory of Marvin Gaye’s family in this lawsuit has shaken the music world and raised a lot of questions about the creative process.
“You’ve made it illegal to reference previous material,” said Los Angeles composer and producer Gregory Butler, who is also a managing director at music start-up WholeWorldBand. “I’m never going to come up with something so radically different that it doesn’t contain references to something else.”
Joe Escalante, an early member of the Vandals and current entertainment law attorney, said, “This may put a smile on the Gaye family’s face, but it’s a dark day for creativity, and in the end, this will be a net loss for music fans.”
He added, “Good news for lawyers and the bitter everywhere.”
What do you think? Do “Happy” and “Ain’t That Peculiar” sound enough alike to warrant a lawsuit? Where is the line between inspiration and theft?