More artistes voice Blurred Lines concerns

April 2015


Music publishing


With the appeal by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams in the Blurred Lines case now confirmed, rapper and producer RZA says there should be a limit on how much an artist can recover if their songs are sampled without consent. Speaking at SXSW, the Wu-Tang Clan co-founder said that while artists who inspire should be paid, there should be a limit to how much they can demand, especially if the money isn’t actually going to the artist: “Art is something that’s made to inspire the future,” he said during his stay in Austin, according to the Daily Beast. “If you utilize somebody’s artistic expression blatantly, to [the point] where it’s an identifiable thing, then there should be some sort of compensation to the person who inspires you.” Arguing the sampling itself is creative and an art form, the Shaolin producer, known for crafting unexpected beats from esoteric samples, called for a 50% cap for retroactive payments of sampled material saying “There should be a cut off. Fifty percent is the most” commenting “The Greeks could come sue everybody because one generation teaches the other” and “When you hear an A chord to the D to the E, there are over one million songs with that same progression. And each one of their songs is identified as their own. The point being that art will continue to inspire the next generation, and we will find duplication” before going on to reveal ““I’ve been in situations where I’ve sampled something and the original copyright holder took 90 percent …. That means they ignored all the programming, drumming, keyboard playing I played on top of it, they ignored every lyric, every hook, everything that we built to make it a song. And we wound up selling more copies than the sample[d] version—but yet they took 90 percent of the song.”
And Grammy winner John Legend is also concerned that the Blurred Lines verdict could set a worrying precedent for artists creating music inspired by others. The Grammy winner told the Associated Press he understands why people say Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke’s 2013 hit sounds like Marvin Gaye’s Got To Give It Up from 1977, adding: ‘I said that when I first heard it, too.’ But he said he doesn’t agree with the jury that determined the performers actually copied elements of Marvin’s work but said  “There’s a lot of music out there, and there’s a lot of things that feel like other things that are influenced by other things” adding “And you don’t want to get into that thing where all of us are suing each other all the time because this and that song feels like another song.'”


Williams v. Bridgeport Music, Inc., No. 13-06004 (C.D. Cal. Nov. 19, 2013) and

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