Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams spent 2013 on the top of the charts with their hit Blurred Lines, but due to allegations of copyright infringement suit leveled by the children of legendary singer Marvin Gaye they also spent much of 2014 in a court proceedings.
And did they put on a show.
The saga began in early 2013, when the Gaye family approached its publisher, EMI April, about protecting Gaye’s 1977 hit, Got to Give it Up from what it perceived as infringement. The request put EMI between a rock and hard place, however, since the company is now owned by Sony/ATV, which manages both catalogs of songs. The company was reluctant to take any action. There are plenty of YouTube videos, like this one, that play the songs side by side for you to judge.
The controversy has created a viral buzz on the Internet, which was fueled in part because Thicke admitted that Gaye was one of his childhood idols. He bought his first Gaye recording when he was only 8 years of age and has consistently maintained that Got to Give it Up was one of his favorite songs of all time. Rumors on the web also indicate that when he and Williams discussed the song, he encouraged Williams to make something that “sounded like” the Gaye song.
In view of the controversy, Thicke and Williams took preemptive action and filed for a declaratory judgment in August 2013 asking a Los Angeles district court to issue a ruling that their song Blurred Lines was not infringing, but rather was inspired by the sound of the late 70’s era of “funkadelic” music. In its response to their complaint, Gaye’s family filed a countersuit claiming that Thicke and Williams specifically infringed Got To Give It Up. The estate also named EMI-Sony/ATV as a defendant, claiming that it breached its fiduciary duty to them by refusing to resolve the conflict.
Each party brought out their best musicologists and mash-ups, but it was the deposition that got the best of Thicke, who consistently refused to listen to the comparison “mash up” played by the attorney, claiming that listening to minor chords over major chords was like “chalk on a