Robin Thicke sues…Marvin Gaye’s family? Weird

I suppose this could be called a preemptive lawsuit. I don’t really get it, maybe because as far as I know I’ve never heard the Robin Thicke hit supposedly inspired by Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up,” which I certainly have heard.

As Ben Sisario writes of this lawsuit in the New York Times:

Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” is the song of the summer, spending 10 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s charts and still blaring out of cars and bars from sea to shining sea. Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up” was a clear inspiration for it, but were Mr. Thicke and his songwriting partners merely inspired by Gaye, or did they infringe on the copyright of the earlier song?

Silly me, I’d have thought that the lawsuit should be by the Gaye family, if they have a solid claim of copyright infringement. I remember the lawsuit over George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord.” As Wikipedia describes it:

“My Sweet Lord” was at the centre of a heavily publicised plagiarism suit due to its similarity to the Ronnie Mack song “He’s So Fine“, a 1963 hit for the New York girl group the Chiffons. In 1976, Harrison was found to have “subconsciously” plagiarised the earlier tune, a verdict that had repercussions throughout the music industry.

In any case, Robin Thicke, et al.’s aggressive and offensive lawsuit — which apparently is careful to avoid the charge of subconscious plagiarism by admitting that Gaye’s hit inspired it — sure isn’t much of an homage to Marvin Gaye. I mean, he couldn’t possibly have infringed upon Thicke’s copyright, could he, given that he died in 1984?

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