With $7,3M awarded to the Gaye family, this week saw the end of
the most controversial trial that the music industry saw this year
and the verdict of the jury opens the door to biggest ambiguities on plagiarism…
Not a good week for Pharrell, who sees increasing uncertainty surrounding his creations. Pharrell dug his hole when he decided to “prevent” future actions and sue the Gaye family in first place.
From there, a beehive got shaken and opposite vibes start to spread.. Robin Thicke claimed in first place that “he was drunk and high on Vicodin” when he recorded “Blurred Lines”. He basically said that he was there but unconscious, Pharrell was doing everything alone, and that he just wanted some credit because he was jealous.
On the same line, Thicke told GQ that “Pharrell and I were in the studio and I told him that one of my favorite songs of all time was Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got to Give it Up.’ I was like, ‘Damn, we should make something like that, something with that groove.’ Then he started playing a little something and we literally wrote the song in about a half hour and recorded it.”
Ok, so while Thicke made the hole of the right size for Pharrell’s coffin, eight musicologists were consulted. Pharrell, when asked, said that actually yes, the bass line is soooo identical, but at the end Blurred Lines and Got to Give it Up have just the same feel.
So at this point Thicke, trying to cover the rests of the meal, appeared in front of the jury and played a few instruments and songs to say that a lot of songs are similar in the end. One point for Thicke.
The funny part is that the Gaye family doesn’t own the master rights, that means the rights to reproduce the song, but just the copyright, which means the sheet music. So the Gaye family can’t play the two songs in front of the jury.
The $7.3 million awarded to the family of Gaye beats the record on copyright infringement, previously held by Michael Bolton – Isley Brothers’ “Love Is a Wonderful Thing” ($5,4 million). So even though Marvin Gaye died thirty years ago, his ex-wife Janis and his daughter Nona keep the flag high and hope to get a few more millions from Happy, Pharrel’s 2014 year, or any other song, at this point.
I would say anyway that the most relevant outcome of this trial is that now the poor souls who work in the business as composers, trying to put together a new score every week, are freaking out as they just don’t know where the new line in between plagiarism and authenticity lies.
As we grow up in music and we’re so overwhelmed by similar vibes, feels and moods, isn’t it just possible that we tend to copy without being aware that out work is not that original?
Can’t we be the victims of our culture when it comes to authenticity?