BLURRED LINES: SOMEWHERE BETWEEN FOGERTY V. FANTASY AND HARRISONGS V. BRIGHT TUNES
Such infringement lawsuits over popular music are not uncommon. In this particular instance, the Plaintiffs admit they were “inspired” by the Marvin Gaye song. See http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/17/business/media/songwriters-sue-to-defend-a-summer-hit.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0. Pharrell also acknowledged Marvin Gaye’s influence. See http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-09-13/national/42019651_1_pharrell-marvin-gaye-thursday-night.
In the Fogerty v. Fantasy case, Fantasy Records sued John Fogerty who was a former member of the band, Credence Clearwater Revival. Fantasy claimed that Fogerty’s song “The Old Man Down the Road” infringed on the CCR song “Run Through The Jungle” owned by Fantasy. That case was decided by a jury but clearly the lyrics were different and while there was a similar ‘swamp rock’ sound, the composition was not the same. In that case the jury found no infringement by Fogerty. (Like many other copyright infringement decisions involving famous songs, the Fogerty lawsuit has an interesting backstory. See http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2000/jul/11/artsfeatures3.
George Clinton of The Funkadelics tweeted that he does not believe that “Sexy Ways” is similar to “Blurred Lines.” See http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/robin-thicke-sues-protect-blurred-607492.
On the other hand, there is the case of George Harrison’s song “My Sweet Lord” infringing The Chiffon’s hit song “He’s So Fine” which was owned by Bright Tunes. In that case, the Court found that the ubiquitous “He’s So Fine” was subconsciously copied given the similar nature of the works. (The Harrison case also has a fascinating background. See http://todaynewsgazette.com/george-harrison-my-sweet-lord-lawsuit/.)
Do you think that “Blurred Lines” infringes “Sexy Ways” or “Got To Give It Up?”