Very fitting: "Blurred Lines" is in trouble because they didn't seek a clear consent.
— Eric Kleefeld (@EricKleefeld) March 10, 2015
Yes, it’s a long-standing practice, but sometimes the theft is particularly egregious. I like Dayna Evans’ explanation, at Gawker — “Turning Good Song Into Shitty Mess Will Cost Pharrell, Thicke $7 Million“:
A jury in California decided on Wednesday that “Blurred Lines,” the Marvin Gaye-ripoff pop track that poisoned the 2013 summer radiowaves with advocacy for ignorance over sexual consent, will cost songwriters Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams a $7.3 million payout to the Gaye family. Good. Fuck that song.
Please, recall: In 2013, Thicke and Williams preemptively sued Gaye’s children to force the court into deciding whether or not “Blurred Lines,” a masterfully obnoxious second-rate edition of Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up,” was an infringement on the 1977 hit. The Gaye family then countersued, for obvious reasons…
During the trial, Robin ‘ThanksDad’ Thicke claimed that during their ‘collaborative’ sessions he was too drunk/stoned to write his name in the snow, and blamed the whole theft thing on that crafty hitmaker Pharrell. A plague upon it when thieves cannot be true one to another!
Apart from explaining that you have no idea whatever I might be talking about, since the only time you turn on the wireless is to enjoy a particularly rarefied chamber orchestra performance, what’s on the agenda for the evening?
I like to listen to Marketplace, too. It’s good. Except when it’s the fundraising week(s). Then off the wireless, and to the internets!
Yeah, are we gonna play laser dot or not?
I have no idea what you’re talking about because I haven’t turned on the wireless in ages.
I turned on the Internet, though, and stumbled upon yet another story about gaming. Does anyone else think ” gamING” is as pretentious as ” THE Ohio State University”? There’s something wrong with “playing games”?
Now, I’m going to tie an onion to my belt and go tell those gamERS to take their x-boxes and get off my lawn.
Today’s First World problem: I told my spouse to have the Ikea couch assembled with the chaise on the right, and he told them to put it on the left. I haven’t actually gotten home to see it yet, so maybe it’s not so bad. Still, I told him this at least three times AND wrote it down for him, so I’m suspecting he just wanted it done his way.
We have the latest Justified to watch, and I have Fury ripped to my HD.
But “An Ohio State University” would just be silly!
By the way, I recommend upgrading from a wireless to a radiogramophone. Many excellent chamber orchestra performances are available, recorded on “records” that can be conveniently stored in the pages of what they cleverly call an “album”, in a deft reference to the similar objects used for storing one’s daguerrotypes.
On a bus, returning to PHX from a day skiing in Flagstaff. Man, Flagstaff is rad.
The teenage boys on the bus talking about their dicks and trying to get the driver to give them beer are….less so.
Someone downstairs mentioned Bob in Portland got whacked with the ban hammer. Was that by popular demand or did he even manage to annoy Cole?
Science-fiction author John Scalzi doesn’t have a ban hammer. He has a “Mallet of Loving Correction.”. This made me think that if I ever get a web site I will employ the “Genuine Japanese White Oak Bokken of Benevolent Righteousness.”. Beat that, Scalzi!
Thankful for (deeply discounted) SirriusXM as well as various NPR affiliates for getting me across CO, Neb., IA and southern MN in one relatively sane piece.
980-some miles in the past 36 hrs, solo, with an overnight in Lincoln is my idea of fun. At least it is with a “wireless set” built into the dash board.*
It’s a big-ass country. Oh, and “certified Angus burgers” is a load of marketing garbage. I saw lots of black cows hemmed into stinking feedlots.
*when were these last an actual board??
@Lee Rudolph: Wow. Science marches on!
I came to Pharrell late in the game. I am not that hip. I did not realize he was stealing music from people. As you might guess I have an issue with that. One of my favorite bands is The Meters. Uptown Rulers. Read they are the most sampled band in the world. In rap world everybody take their music and they don’t make a penny off of it.
@Suzanne: I didn’t know that you were on the same bus as the squires of the State Lege…..
@Suzanne: Now that sounds like fun. I’m guessing your bus didn’t take the winding backroad through Oak Creek Canyon
@Pogonip: BiP was posting under another name this afternoon. BillS I think it was.
It just so happens to be TWUE!!
(Drives off in a little brown 1989 Huff.)
I have no idea what you’re talking about because I stay away from the pop stations on Sirius.
AL (up top):
Apart from explaining that you have no idea whatever I might be talking about, since the only time you turn on the wireless is to enjoy a particularly rarefied chamber orchestra performance, …
I remember Marvin Gaye but not the song. I sort-of know who Thicke and Pharrell are but not their song. I stopped being cognizant of contemporary music some years ago. As to what I listen now… well some classical, some old folk and old rock.
Still trying to get myself out from under the avalanche of paper in the apartment.
Whyever bother with less? I patronize wirefull concerts exclusively– the rhythm section is far superior and the technical skill necessary to distinguish the Morse announcements from the musical movements tends to weed out the undiscerning.
There is not nearly enough space in my drawing room to accommodate the overlarge gramophone horn. I prefer a crystal set, myself, complete with cat’s whiskers.
I like “Blurred Lines.” It’s catchy. The lyrics are ick but the song itself is catchy. If you want to see naked wimmins, the video has plenty.
@jeffreyw: Homer was such an adorable little kitten-in-a-cast… And now he looks like a Bond villain!
He would fit in well here.
“Playing games” is fairly cumbersome, doesn’t roll off the tongue. Sounds somewhat infantile too. Don’t get me started on “game players.”
From La Mission, starts with “Stop, Listen to Your Heart” by Stylistics and the “Got to Give it Up” by Marvin.
Gin & Tonic
@beltane: The evidence is pretty compelling that BobS and BiP are not the same person.
It’s kind of a big case.
It’s done (poorly) in the style of Got to Give it Up, a rather minimalist song. To the extent there’s overt copying, there are many (countless?) versions of prior use. One of the items cited by Gaye’s family was that the initial melodic phrase began with an eighth-note rest. Yup, it’s syncopated.
Pharell and Thicke meant to create a song like Got to Give it Up, but I don’t think anyone would confuse the two. This is not Ghostbusters v. I Want a New Drug, where many (non-musician) people could hear the, um, significant, similarities. (In googling this today, I learned that Want a New Drug was used as filler music in raw Ghostbusters footage, and that Huey Lewis refused to give up rights to his song. That footage was then provided to Ray Parker Jr.)
I did not know of Sam Smith until the news of his settlement with Tom Petty over Stay with Me/Won’t Back Down. The key phrase provides the titles of the song. And it’s also the melody for Three Blind Mice. Apparently, Mr. Petty owns that now.
Love Tractor used to cover it all the time.
These ‘airwaves’ of what you speak…what are they? Are they related to my ipod? Because I never heard that song come out of my ipod.
Seriously, once I dropped NPR I just left my ipod on in the car so I almost never hear radio any more.
@Gin & Tonic: There are two separate Putin fans here? Now I am depressed.
@Doc Sportello: And Zep and Jake Holmes and Dazed and Confused?
@Mike J: Haven’t seen them around lately.
Lindsey Graham: as president I would deploy the military against Congress
Of course he would. He wouldn’t hesitate to deploy the military against any of his perceived enemies. He also knows well of Congress’s treason. He participated in much of it.
@Mike J: Fuck Truck cover Marvin
@raven: Had to look that one up. Wow.
I knew Led Dirigible had failed to give credit to a bunch of black musicians, but I didn’t know they ripped off white folk, too.
Am off to Amazon to buy a Jake Holmes CD ….
@raven: I just tried to post a link to a video of it, but WP eated it.
@Mike J: Armistead does doggie paintings now.
@Kropadope: Why wouldn’t he. He is supported by defense companies.
As far as what Anne said, I have no idea
WIkipedia says he also wrote the “Be All You Can Be” jingle for the Army.And “I’m a Pepper, You’re a Pepper.”
Here you go no more excuses:
@Doc Sportello: Jake opened for the Yardbirds and Page liked the song and bought the album. The rest is history.
@Doc Sportello: Yup.
Marvin was Motown’s favorite, a star’s star. He made that nothing track into something special; he was special. Clearly the plagiarists have good taste.
Speaking of theft…the purported wireless inventor Marconi stole it all from Tesla who pretty much made the 20th Century happen.
Right on, as they would say in the day.
The “Blurred Lines” video was a disgusting, exploitative piece of garbage.
Musically, I played Marvin’s real version over and over while BL was raking in the money. Actually, I’ll take any excuse to play Marvin. Or no excuse at all, but just because, so it wasn’t that different than my usual tunes, but I did tweet it out as often as possible.
@Kropadope: it’s only a matter of time. I used to think that with rising inequality, we were going to look like Brazil. Now I think Myannmar, only with fewer happy people.
I think you’re way late on that one. A quick look in the dictionary suggests “gaming” has been used to refer to playing games of chance at least since the 16th century. It’s certainly been used that way for other kinds of games, e.g. Role Playing Gaming, Video Gaming, War Gaming, etc. for decades, and the people who played those games were called “genre” Gamers. If there’s anything pretentious about the current usage, it’s that Video Gamers think there are no other worthwhile kinds of games, so they can use the generic term “Gamers” for themselves without worrying about conflict.
Now leaving your lawn.
Yep. Let us pike on the hits of today. Somehow I think this blog’s demo is greyer than Fox News on Thursday morning.
Marvin Gaye medley T.A.M.I Show 1964 Terri Garr is a Go-Go dancer Zappa is in the crowd and Glen Campbell is in the house band.
@Peale: So what?
@Peale: Well, we’re fortunate in that I don’t think that the particular fascist in question will ever be elected president.
It’s possible that you are confusing musical snobbery with age.
ETA: I was making disparaging remarks about Top-40 music over 30 years ago.
Are you out of your freaking tree? Maybe people who casually play a simple puzzle videogames only play that, but people who play lots of videogames, at least in my experience, love them some board games, card games, gambling, sports (to varying degrees based on personal athleticism), and really anything else one might “play.”
The only problem I have with some people is getting them to play a game with cute characters,
Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism
@Pogonip: And before Scalzi, there was Susan Shwartz and her Sacred Salmon.
@raven: I have this DVD. James Brown plays, as do the Rolling Stones. Jan and Dean (!) host the show.
@Omnes Omnibus: Back in my day, pop music was uplifting and moral and all-American. We had Twisted Sister, and Loverboy, and Guns N Roses, and Madonna had the decency to wear her underwear on the outside of her clothes. Kids today with their hippity-hop music and low-riding pants. No mullets or Def Leppard sleeveless shirts with the Union Jack on them to be found anywhere.
@stickler: Not quite where I was heading with it, but then I am the person who once posted this comment.
@efgoldman: and you threw their commie long haired tea into Boston harbor to let them know they weren’t wanted here.
The actual headline should be, “Shitty Song So Popular it Made $9 Million Even After $7 Million Judgment.”
@efgoldman: Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.
@stickler: I seem to be a square(ish) person. I remember one day when I returned from lunch with a record album. (Yeah, vinyl was still the thing.) Some of my co-workers wandered over and wanted to know what I had bought. When they saw Twisted Sister there were some audible “huh” sounds. People were surprised that I had Twisted Sister. (I think I still have the album.)
You talkin’ to me?
Though I can’t stand “Blurred Lines”, I really wonder if the similarity with “Got To Give It Up” is such that it’s really a good idea to rule it an infringement. At least half of the pop/rock songs ever made are probably copyright violations on that level.
Speaking of rarified performances, if you care at all for 20th century classical music you should check out Valentina Lisitsa’s new album of music for solo piano by Philip Glass.
There are only a finite number of things you can do if you’re limited to the I, IV, and V chords and the keys of E, G, and A.
Once Buzz Williams gets some players, Virginia Tech is going to become a HUGE pain in the ass.
The only reason this hasn’t happened 20,000 times before is that most musicians are too stoned or apathetic to hire a lawyer. As John Lenoon said, there are only a few notes.
And then that fucker Lennon plagiarized it.
The Meters are the fucking greatest. They have been sampled pretty heavily, but the Most Sampled title would have to go to James Brown. And while there are a lot of uncleared Meters samples, there are also a lot of properly cleared Meters samples; I can’t say for sure if The Meters themselves got paid for those samples, though, as it’s far from a sure thing that they own the publishing rights to their own music.
Anyway, as far as this “Blurred Lines” case goes, what a horrible shitfuck of a decision. It’s so bad that it’s worse than Robin Thicke, if you can believe that.
@Bubblegum Tate: Doesn’t most sampled go to “Funky Drummer?”
@efgoldman: Shakes is in the public domain. He died too late to get the benefit of the Protect-the-Disney-Corporation’s-copyright-on-Winnie-the-Pooh-in-infinity Act.
@BobbyThomson: My law review editorial board* adopted “I am a bear of very little Brain and long words bother me” as our motto”** No one sued us.
*Articles Editor represent!
**Yeah, I take credit for suggesting it.
Is that the condition to have one’s permission for yelling at the kids to get off your lawn upgraded to a permission for yelling at clouds?
So now that agitating for use of the military to force the hand of Congress is fair game, would it not also be time to come clean and officially repackage ‘leadership’ as ‘Führerprinzip’?
On the other hand, I can’t help the feeling that Führer, ah President, is a well above Lindsey’s level with regard to the Peter principle, though I could see him make a good Gauleiter.
I hate the fact that copyrights extend beyond the 10-15 year mark. It’s ridiculous. Copyright clause of the constitution:
To promote. How does 90 fucking years, or whatever it is, promote art? It locks shit down for way, way too long. Thank the gods that tech patents are only for 20 years so we can get cheap meds and tech. Still, Thicke and Pharrell should never have been in this position to begin with. They should be able to do whatever they want with Marvin Gaye’s music at this point. And I say that as someone that hates Robin fucking Thicke.
35 years. So the song becomes public domain in 2019 since Gaye died in 1984 if my math is correct.
I just don’t think the songs are similar enough for a copyright infringement claim. The casual listener would note the inspiration, but they would never confuse the two songs. I think it should reach at least “My Sweet Lord/He’s So Fine” levels of similarity before we think about copyright claims. And I say this as someone who hated “Blurred Lines” from the beginning.
@Doc Sportello: Led Zep had to settle with the estate of Ritchie Valens because “Boogie With Stu” was Ritchie’s “Ooh My Head” (and Ritchie borrowed it from Little Richard’s “Oooh My Soul”
@Arclite: How dare artists get paid for their work! It would be so much better if they had to rely on patrons for food and shelter. After all, isn’t art supposed to be for the public good, and what is better than free? (But heaven forbid that anyone else’s property not last in perpetuity – how else are billionaires going to stay billionaires?)
Paul in KY
@stickler: I hears ye!!!
@burnspbesq: Yeah, I mean, I’m pretty sure there’s precedent that you can’t copyright a chord progression, because the majority of pop songs are small variations on maybe five or six chord progressions. There’s your twelve-bar blues, “Heart and Soul”, I-V-VI-IV, Pachelbel’s Canon and various truncations of it, maybe one or two others.
But you can copyright a melody; Tom Petty probably had a potential case with “Stay With Me” because there was enough of his melody there that even I could notice the similarity. (It was a little more than “Three Blind Mice.”)
This seems to have been somewhere in the gray area in between. The lines were blurred, I guess.
As awful (and as karmically deserving of this judgement) as Robin Thicke is, it’s a bad precedent. There is very little melodic similarity between the songs. The similarity is purely in the arrangement… which has never been considered copyrightable. And the jury was specifically asked NOT to consider the arrangement: they were only supposed to evaluate the melody.
Basically, if this decision stands, then vast quantities of blues, jazz, rock, country, R&B, hip-hop, techno, and any other genre you can think of would be considered “infringing”.
Do you like classic style blues music? If you’re applauding the Blurred Lines decision (notes and score not important, just “feel”) you’re wishing every blues musician after maybe 1920 never did a song.
It’s either “Funky Drummer” or “Impeach the President,” with “Synthetic Substitution” and “Amen, Brother” making strong showings. But if throw in the rest of James Brown’s catalog besides “Funky Drummer,” he’s got that Most Sampled crown by a good distance.
A couple posts (via LG&M) on the issue. Suitably Thicke-hating, for those that do, but pointing out the problem with this decision.
@Pogonip: Until recently, in the wider culture, “gaming” was mostly a euphemism for gambling. The meaning seems to have changed.
@PJ: Fuck you. I’m not arguing for no copyright at all. The purpose of copyright is to motivate people to produce art and technology for the public good. I think getting paid for up to 10 or 15 years after producing said work is plenty, especially given that the vast majority of sales happen in the first year. The tech patents expire after 20, and if all patents and copyrights worked that way I probably wouldn’t be arguing. But ” life plus 70 years or 95 or 120 years” is way way too long. No public interest is served at all. Only private interests. Not coincidentally, these long copyrights were all lobbied for by corporations like Disney.