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Copyright Violation? Marvin Gaye's Estate Says Yes, but Robin Thicke's Response Raises Eyebrows

Representing the only complex thing about it, "Blurred Lines" has long been the subject of a confusing legal tangle between its principal songwriters, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, and the estate of Marvin Gaye. After Gaye's family threatened legal action, claiming that "Blurred Lines" borrowed heavily from the late singer's "Got To Give It Up," representatives for Thicke et al. preemptively sued Gaye's family; the latter quickly returned the favor with a cross-complaint.

Have you heard Marvin Gaye's song "Got To Give It Up" and compared it to Robin Thicke's song "Blurred Lines"? There are many similarities between the two songs, and Thicke has often said Gaye's song was an inspiration for his own hit track. But when Gaye's estate threatened legal action for copyright violations, Thicke and co-writer Pharrell Williams preemptively sued the estate and asked for a judgment declaring that they did not violate the estate's copyrights. The estate countersued.

Currently, the case is making its way through the court system and Thicke's deposition testimony was leaked to the press. In it, Thicke claimed that all of his public statements could not be used against him because he made them all while drunk and high. He further claims that even though he was present when the song was written, he had no part in it because he was too high. Gaye's estate is understandably not amused. The A.V. Clubhas the full story in an article titled "Robin Thicke says he can't be blamed for 'Blurred Lines' because he was high."

Most estates will not find themselves involved in this type of bizarre litigation, but when copyright infringement issues are involved unusual things oftentimes surface. If you hold copyrights, then it is important to have your estate planning in order in case your estate needs to enforce them. In this case, we will have to wait and see what a judge thinks about Thicke's excuse. It is not likely to go over very well.

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