by Walter Price
Not long ago Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne “won” weird writing credit (and royalties) judgement from Sam Smith. Bizarre if you take Petty’s history of borrowing this and that’s from the history of Rock N’ Roll to create his unique sounds. Then comes this new one where Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams lost a copyright claim to the Estate of Marvin Gaye. Due to the nauseating track “Blurred Lines” being too similar to Gaye’s 1977 “Got to Give It Up”. Weird.
Here’s the thing music nerds. Although “Blurred Lines” & “Got to Give It Up” share a similar funky rhythm and perhaps vibe (which you can’t copyright), these two tracks are not the same and nor do I believe Mr. Williams or The Thicke had any intentions on ‘ripping off’ the late great Marvin Gaye of all peoples. Sure, they intended on a 7o’s-esq feel for the numbing tune but to say they owe $7.4 million for what seems to be a shared interest in a rhythmic thought (which you cannot copyright) is silly and shows the ignorance of the jury system.
Back to Petty. Rock N’ Roll, pop, country and the blues have always been influenced by those who came before them. That is how we have flourished into a world of hundreds of music genres today up from a couple dozen a hundred years ago. Growth, respect and digging into those funky sounds of forfathers and mothers is all part of it.
Hey, straight up theft of sounds, lyrics and perhaps stage persona is against the law in many lands. You can copyright those things. Plus you look silly stealing. Shame shame on you. I’m a staunch supporter of artists’ rights and if it were mathematically possible I’d be 1000% behind anyone being prosecuted or financially penalized for taking what isn’t theirs.
In a world of pop stars being faces with dance moves and a team of puppet masters guiding their every move and trajectory to fame, it’s a comfort to know people like Williams and Thicke write their own stuff. Plus their long individual histories of writing massive tracks for pop-tarts who couldn’t be bothered or the mega-star who just needed a hand in making a hit. We’re talking the crème de la crème in music these two have worked with. Thieves? Why would they need to…So, No.
When Pt. 2: Later we should chat about pop stars that write their own songs and the ones who bask in glory on the backs of real talents.
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