Reverse Sample Lawsuit


Robin Thicke Sues Marvin Gaye

If you are looking for a Robin Thicke story NOT related to Miley Cyrus, then read on…

Thicke’s hit single “Blurred Lines” has undoubtedly become the “song of the summer“. Aside from the video and live VMA performance, there is also a bit of controversy around the song itself. The first time I heard “Blurred Lines“, I thought it intentionally sampled (or in this case replayed/interpolated) Marvin Gaye‘s hit “Got to Give it Up“. I assumed royalties were negotiated, some licensing fees were paid and everyone was happy. Apparently I was wrong.

I read headlines about a lawsuit involving the song and did a double take. Instead of seeing Marvin Gaye (or rather the owners of his work) suing Robin Thicke, it was the other way around. A reverse sample lawsuit? Blew my mind… Thicke sued the estate of Marvin Gaye claiming that they are trying claim ownership of the entire Soul/R&B genre. A bold statement indeed.

Here is my thought. I think all parties involved in writing the song knew it was at least heavily influenced by Gaye’s song. They could have negotiated some fees/royalties with the estate and avoided this whole mess. Let’s be honest – they are all highly successful musicians who can afford to give up some writing credit and leave everyone happy. Instead, they are coming off greedy and acting like they have a guilty conscience by suing first.

Gaye’s son has spoken to TMZ (sigh) saying that he will most likely plan to sue. I don’t think anyone knew how big of a song this was going to become which has certainly added to the tension between both parties. I’ll be very interested to see the outcome of the Thicke lawsuit. If he wins, it could open doors for many other artists by blurring the lines (pun intended) of what is “influenced” vs. “re-played“.

Just a reminder for those who are younger than 30 – Huey Lewis and the News successfully sued Ray Parker Jr. for the Ghostbusters theme song because it was too similar to “I Want a New Drug“. Bam!