Gaye’s family take on Thicke and EMI

December 2013

Music publishing


Soul legend Marvin Gaye’s family have now issued proceedings in an action involving Robin Thicke’s hit single “Blurred Lines”. Two of Gaye’s children have filed a suit against Thicke, producer and writer Pharrell Williams and rapper T.I. for copyright infringement of Marvin’s classic tune “Got to Give it Up” along with a claim against EMI Music, saying the music publisher failed to act on Gaye’s behalf and breached it’s fiduciary duty, siding instead with Thicke and Williams. Williams is with EMI and from this relatonship the publisher has a controlling interest in the song. The claim also accuses the chair of EMI Music Publishing of intimidating family members.  According to Billboard, the suit claims that the Chairman of the publishing company personally contacted the Gaye estate’s attorney and accused the family of “ruining an incredible song” and “killing the goose that laid the golden egg” and allegedly said that he believed the dispute had stopped Thicke from winning a VMA gong and could prevent Blurred Lines  taking the Grammy Award for Song Of The Year in 2014:  The lawsuit says that EMI’s alleged failings are all the more worrying because of Sony/ATV/EMI’s dominance in the music publishing sector. On the issue of market dominance, the lawsuit points to the  30% plus share of the global music publishing market controlled by Sony-EMI saying that there is a strong likelihood that conflicts of interest will occcur.  It goes on: “Based upon the blatant and egregious breach of the EMI defendants’ fiduciary duty and their covenant of good faith and fair dealing, the EMI defendants have proven that they cannot be trusted to remain neutral and impartial, and that they are unworthy of the level of trust and professional conduct which is required of a copyright administrator charged with protecting the Gaye Family’s important interests in copyrighted works created by Marvin Gaye”. The lawsuit comes after Thicke and his collaborators filed a case with a federal court in August asking the judge to rule that they had not copied “Got to Give It Up” for their track.

Subsequently Marvin Gaye’s eldest son, Marvin Gaye III, launched a second lawsuit against Thicke, similar to, but separate from the one launched by his siblings. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Gaye III’s new lawsuit says: “Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ is copied from Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got To Give It Up’, Thicke’s ‘Love After War’ is copied from Gaye’s ‘After The Dance’, Thicke’s ‘Make U Love Me’ is copied from Gaye’s ‘I Want You’), and Thicke’s ‘Million Dollar Baby’ is copied from Gaye’s ‘Trouble Man’.


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