Robin Thicke, Pharell and T.I. sue over 'Blurred Lines'
August 16th, 2013
12:30 PM ET

Robin Thicke, Pharell and T.I. sue over 'Blurred Lines'

Robin Thicke is reportedly being proactive in protecting his hit "Blurred Lines."

According to The Hollywood Reporter, a lawsuit was filed  in California federal court Thursday by Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and Clifford Harris, Jr. (the legal name of rapper T.I.) against the family of the late singer Marvin Gaye and Bridgeport Music, which owns some of the music of the group Funkadelic.

The three men are battling back against complaints that "Blurred Lines" bears similarities to Gaye's "Got to Give It Up" and Funakedlic's "Sexy Ways."

"Plaintiffs, who have the utmost respect for and admiration of Marvin Gaye, Funkadelic and their musical legacies, reluctantly file this action in the face of multiple adverse claims from alleged successors in interest to those artists," the suit says. "Defendants continue to insist that plaintiffs' massively successful composition, 'Blurred Lines,' copies 'their' compositions."

THR notes that the Gaye family and Bridgeport Music  were said to have threatened legal action unless a monetary settlement was reached in the disagreement and Thicke, Williams and Harris would like a court to rule that the "Gayes do not have an interest in the copyright to the composition 'Got To Give It Up' sufficient to confer standing on them to pursue claims of infringement of that composition."

Rather than infringing on the copyright of the original tunes, the trio's suit says that being "reminiscent of a 'sound' is not copyright infringement."

Funkedelic front man George Clinton apparently agrees and tweeted his support of Thicke and the gang on Thursday.

You can read a copy of the lawsuit here. So what do you think? Is "Blurred Lines" paying homage, or too close to the originals?

Filed under: Celebrities • Music

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soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Defy Convention

    I'm sure the families were parasites when Marvin was alive, and continue to suckle at the breast of fame. Get over it, leeches, every music is derivative at some point. There are no copyright infringements here. If influences were a basis for litigation, Chuck Berry would be a helluva lot richer today.

    October 31, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mike hunt

    I wonder if any of these folks have heard of rap music. The whole industry is based on samples.

    September 13, 2013 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  3. She is a felon...I am not

    and that's what she is...she has nothing too offer but urban dictionary and her garbage....

    September 12, 2013 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
  4. skiptomylou

    It sounds like a mix of so many songs. I always think of "You've Got The Look"/Prince & Sheena Easton. Little bit o' Michael J in there too.

    And Robin? "Hug Me" and that other word don't rhyme, btw.

    September 12, 2013 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |


    September 11, 2013 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Defy Convention

      Is your username referring to a power tool, a network device, or are you just misspelling Reuters?

      October 31, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. buffalo

    Who did Marvin Gaye steal it from?

    September 11, 2013 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tyler

    Thicke, Pharrell and T.I. didn't actually sample Got to Give it Up. The timbre of the percussion is similar (especially the cowbell) but the part is different – Gaye's has mostly straight eighth notes, with an occasional 16th note tossed in, and Thicke's has two upbeat sixteenths (ie. one it IS A two it IS A, with the notes being played on the "IS A"). The closest to copying (but not sampled) is the organ part – it is an upbeat close voiced chord. However, the key is a full step higher in Got to Give it Up, and the part is played with a dominant 7th in the bass note. Thicke's interval is just a major third, with no dominant seventh. The recording quality of Thicke's version is MUCH cleaner, as Gaye's has a bunch of background chatter, with a talked-over party atmosphere. The timbre of the bass and the bass part and chord changes are entirely different.

    Is it inspired? Sure. Is it a copy? Well, there's no sample of the Gaye song, and there's no lyrics from the Gaye song. It's derivative, but it's not copywriter infringement.

    September 10, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ollie

    That Marvin Gaye sample is so blatant. Who the heck are Thicke and company kidding???

    September 8, 2013 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Defy Convention

      There is NO Marvin Gaye sample on Blurred Lines. Do you even know what a sample IS???

      October 31, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Big Daddy

    If that were the case everybody would get sued, everybody who ever wrote and performed a hit of any kind. Everything is based on something, even Jazz and the Blues are based on other music forms and take from each other. there are similarities but I don't see exact ones, they are minor and not enough, not what Led Zeppelin did years ago.

    September 5, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. citizenUSA

    Sure, there are MINOR similarities with SOME of the music but not enough to say it's close to "Blurred Lines". Actually, the Gaye family may have a better case suing KC and The Sunshine Band.

    August 29, 2013 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  11. hacked in cell


    August 28, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. terminated


    August 28, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. joe

    Oddly enough the lawsuit does not say the song is not a copy of 'Got To Give It Up' but the Gaye family does not own enough of the copyright to allow them to sue.

    August 28, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. doctorstrangeluv

    I thought Blurred Lines was a sampled remix of "Got to Give It Up" from the very first time I heard it

    August 25, 2013 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  15. JC

    Too many kids of stars trying to cash in on their parents success. And no I'm not talking about Thicke. Marvin would roll over if he saw how greedy his family has been.

    August 22, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Monica

    Ok No!....Listened to the songs and their claim is ridculous!!!!!! Sounds like someone is deperate for money!

    August 21, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob

      And vanilla ice did not steal the beat from the song under pressure..... uh huh..

      August 22, 2013 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • ladyp

      Isn't this the same reason Ray Parker Jr. was sued and lost for his Ghost Busters song. It sounded too much like a Huey Lewis and the news song.

      September 7, 2013 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Defy Convention

      Vanilla Ice never said he didn't use "Under Pressure"...he sampled it and gave credit. "Blurred Lines" doesn't contain a sample from any of the plaintiff's music, nor enough notes to support a copyright complaint. Your comment is just as clueless as Trayvon Martin's parents campaigning against "Stand Your Ground" laws. Neither case applies. However, in both cases the whiners are looking for publicity.

      October 31, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Jo

    When i first listened to this song, I immediately thought that it sampled Marvin Gaye's Got to Give it Up. It's cool to sample but don't be another Vanilla Ice and not give credit.

    August 21, 2013 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
    • buffalo

      Yes, I see. If a white singer does it, it's "stealing". If a black rapper does it, it's "sampling". Uh-huh.

      September 11, 2013 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  18. DJ Vinly Head

    Not sure what type of lawyer you are .But i studied Music Law.
    You CAN NOT sample "large parts of others music" without payment or points given.
    This is a Marvin Gaye "Ripoff/Inspired song"
    Sounds like Madonnas "Give it to me"..Both produced by Pharrell...Both Marvin Gaye tunes

    August 20, 2013 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • emperorbailey

      My understanding is that there aren't any actual samples, but that the new song is "reminiscent" of the old one. No sample and no lyrics means no infringement. Even if the percussion is the exactly the same (and I'm not sure it is), you can't copyright percussion, because of the limited number of variations.

      August 25, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Oliver Dyer

    Once again it appears that only people that are going win are the lawyers. A few similar "runs" and/or "riffs" in the songs does not make it a "rip off". Even George Clinton, former Funkadelic member, says so.

    August 20, 2013 at 5:52 am | Report abuse |
  20. You were at that call...s-x machine girl

    you heard what we were doing...why would i talk about baiting when we knew you were there? why?

    cuz we got da hack

    August 19, 2013 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  21. chris

    seriously.... u can not find something really interested...!!! siempre andan con mamadas hablando de africanos indues

    August 19, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Grego

    Who the heck are these people? They probably didn't even write any of that stuff. That's why they are entertainers and not musicians. Duh!

    August 17, 2013 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • John in TX

      Robin Thicke and Pharrel Williams are both accomplished song writers and producers. Fumble by Grego!

      August 26, 2013 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Manny

    Didn't anyone pay attention to the article, Marvin Gaye's Familiy, and the record label of the Funkadelics were seeking monetary compensation for the resemblance of the song to theirs. Robin Thicke is suing so he doesn't have to give them a cut. This is only a response to the threat of legal action from the family and record label. It's not a cruel act from Thicke. Also though the song may share some resemblance,it is original and not that similar in my opinion.

    August 17, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Jdub77

    I listened to both the Marvin Gaye and funkadelic songs. I don't see any connection with funkadelic. BUT the Marvin Gaye song has clearly been at least inspiration. The drum, percussion and bass line is almost exact. I could see a judge deciding in favor of the Gaye copyright owners

    August 17, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Janie

    Marvin Gaye's family initiated the suit. Robin & Co filed a counter-suit in response which is what some people do when they are being sued.

    August 17, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Thicke Head

    What kind of low life rips off a classic artists sound and then sues he's remaining relatives afterwards? Mr Gaye is a legend and is no longer with us. Mr Thicke is a one hit wonder who just wants to capitalize as much as possible on this moment. A real shame that most young people will take sides with the talentless Thicke over the legendary Gaye. At least Gaye had his OWN sound and didn't need to rip off/sue others.

    August 17, 2013 at 6:31 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      @M.A.P.: Gaye was murdered by his now-dead father thirty years ago, so which of his relatives do you think are still "morning"? (Learn to spell. Nobody takes seriously anyone who can't spell simple words.)

      August 17, 2013 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      Don't know where you've been for the last 8-10 years, but Robin Thicke is an R&B legend. Definitely not a one-hit-wonder.

      August 19, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robin Thicke is a talent...

      is the rest of his cast of bimbos that suck....daz why he not boff her

      August 19, 2013 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Smith

      Robin Thicke is most definitely not a one-hit-wonder and the fact that Pharell decided to use a similar percussion set to Marvin Gaye's out-dated hit does not make it a "rip-off". Lets let artists be artists and not act appalled when they make music we don't like.

      August 31, 2013 at 3:23 am | Report abuse |
  27. Krissy K

    People are soo greedy these days do anything for a quick dollar. I hope #Team Thicke wins!!!

    August 17, 2013 at 6:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Nope

      You missread the article – Mr Thicke is suing the late Marvin Gaye's remaining family because they said he ripped off the sound from Gayes earlier work (which he did). I hope Mr Thicke ends up in jail over this.

      August 17, 2013 at 7:18 am | Report abuse |
  28. M.A.P.

    The song is a total Marvin Gaye rip off. I hope Robin Thicke is sued into bankrupcy and then some.

    August 17, 2013 at 5:23 am | Report abuse |
  29. jim parker

    Listened to all songs and while voices etc sound on a similar theme there is no way this blurred lines has been taken from any of these songs.

    August 17, 2013 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
  30. Sharon Smith

    Does not remind me of Marvin Gaye and the high pitch sound of funckadelics either.. for that matter these two could sue the BG's, Prince, Justin Timberlake and who else? tSad that jealousy has caused the courts to be used for this insane effort instead of to protect us from real crime.. "Blurred Lines" does not sound like either one of these two songs.

    August 17, 2013 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  31. Kat in Mt

    After hearing it the first time I kept trying to figure out what song it reminded me of .....ding, ding, ding.....Got To Give It Up... No doubt.

    August 16, 2013 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Tiffany Hughes

    This song is hot!

    August 16, 2013 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  33. justbecause

    when I heard the song the first thing I thought about was Marvin Gaye

    August 16, 2013 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • FiveLiters

      I can hear "Got To Give It Up",and the snippet of descending bass/song before the chorus in Lipps Inc. "Funkytown" myself.

      August 17, 2013 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Josephine Huyghe

    As a RobinThicke fan for years.... Didn't any concern or complaints until "blurred Lines" became a worldwide number one hit.... Nothing but greed . As great as the one and only Marvin Gaye was... I don't think he ever had a hit as big like "blurred Lines." GO ROBIN, T.I. AND PHARRELL. YOU HAVE GOT THE WORLD DANCING

    August 16, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Batman

      Um, Marvin Gaye never had a hit as big as this song? What's Goin On, Mercy Me, Let's Get it On, and the song that is being mentioned here were ALL hits....

      August 16, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alfred

      Indupitably, sir.

      August 16, 2013 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sasha B.J.

      ........"as great as the one and only Marvin Gaye was... I don't think he ever had a hit as big like "blurred Lines."

      SERIOUSLY??? Um, everything Marvin Gaye did was a huge hit. Do some research before making yourself look like a moron. Omg, how embarrassing for you.

      August 16, 2013 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • M.A.P.

      Ugh! Keep your revolting taste in music to yourself. He has DIRECTLY ripped off Marvin Gaye to make a fil-thy sle-azy song about taking advantage of women. He should be spat on for his disgusting lyrics and video. He is an absolute pathetic human being who deserves no respect.

      August 17, 2013 at 3:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Janie

      Marvin Gaye had many number one songs that topped the R&B charts. Blurred Lines is topping many charts including the R&B charts. I don't think that Marvin Gaye had that kind of cross over success. There are not many clubs and radio stations currently not playing Blurred Lines. That's taking nothing away from Marvin Gaye and his music. It's just a different time and this song has a larger audience.

      August 17, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Janie's mom

      Janie, if everyone is jumping off a bridge, does that mean you should? What's popular isn't always good, and what's good isn't always popular.

      August 19, 2013 at 7:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Jane

      what is good is popular that is why they are in demand.

      August 19, 2013 at 7:31 am | Report abuse |
    • @Jane

      Sharknado was popular and got lots of ratings, so according to your 'logic,' that was a good show?

      August 19, 2013 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  35. Sokman

    I watched the uncensored version of "Blurred Lines" the other day, and the only part about it I liked was the sign that said Robin Thicke Has A Big D!ck.

    That got me reallly excited.

    August 16, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • M.A.P.

      He does?! Thanks for letting me know!! It's already my favorite song!! Now I'll have to watch the video too, and especially Robin!!

      August 16, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • M.A.P.

      Check picture above – no bulge in those trousers – no biggy.

      August 17, 2013 at 5:44 am | Report abuse |
  36. justcruisingthrough

    I can hear Got to Give it Up riffs playing as the base of this song. But how much snippet is too much is always tricky. Although I can say when I hear Blurred Lines I don't think of Marvin Gaye though.

    August 16, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lydia

      Everyone can debate this all they want, but as a lawyer, I can tell you Thicke will win this hands down, people have been sampling songs for years, the Supreme Court has already ruled that is perfectly acceptable as art is always taken form other's art and will continue to do so. Artists can and do sample large parts of other songs and this is perfectly acceptable....I'm sure most of us can name countless examples of songs like this.

      August 19, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  37. midnightman84

    The Funkadelic claim by Bridgeport is the only reason I can see Robin and Co. protecting themselves from to be right but the Marvin claim is ridiculous, it obviously ripped elements of it.

    August 16, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |

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