Some 212 musicians have attached their names to a brief supporting Pharrell, Robin Thicke and TI’s appeal in the “Blurred Lines” copyright case, including Earth Wind & Fire, R Kelly, John Oates, Linkin Park, Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump, film composer Hans Zimmer, Tears for Fears’ Curt Smith, Juicy J, the Go-Go’s, Frank Ocean collaborator Malay, Jennifer Hudson, Train’s Patrick Monahan, the production duo Stargate, Aloe Blacc, Jean Baptiste and Kiesza.
The amicus brief echoes the concerns many artists and commentators have voiced since a Los Angeles jury determined that “Blurred Lines” plagiarised Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up” – that the songs were not actually similar (even if the sound recording ‘vibe’ was and “Blurred Lines” and “Got to Give It Up” have completely different melodies and song structures, and do not share any lyrics or “a sequence of even two chords played in the same order and for the same duration.”
The brief reads: “The verdict in this case threatens to punish songwriters for creating new music that is inspired by prior works ” and “All music shares inspiration from prior musical works, especially within a particular musical genre. By eliminating any meaningful standard for drawing the line between permissible inspiration and unlawful copying, the judgment is certain to stifle creativity and impede the creative process. The law should provide clearer rules so that songwriters can know when the line is crossed, or at least where the line is.”
The brief goes on to warn of the potential repercussions the “Blurred Lines” decision could have on the future creativity by looking at past pop inspirations: “One can only imagine what our music would have sounded like if David Bowie would have been afraid to draw from Shirley Bassey, or if the Beatles would have been afraid to draw from Chuck Berry, or if Elton John would have been afraid to draw from the Beatles, or if Elvis Presley would have been afraid to draw from his many influences.”