Nona Gaye, Frankie Gaye and Marvin Gaye III, in a joint letter published on the website of Rolling Stone magazine, discuss the background and legacy of their late father’s “Got to Give It Up,’ the 1977 single that a Los Angeles federal jury determined had been plagiarized by Thicke and Williams.
In the letter, the siblings suggest how their dad would have handled the situation.
“If he were alive today, we feel he would embrace the technology available to artists and the diverse music choices and spaces accessible to fans who can stream a song at a moment’s notice,’ the Gaye heirs wrote. “But we also know he would be vigilant about safeguarding the artist’s rights. He also gave credit where credit is due.”
The Gaye children say the suit could have been avoided if Thicke and Williams had met with the family before releasing “Blurred Lines.”
“Like most artists, they could have licensed and secured the song for appropriate usage,’ the family’s letter says. “This did not happen. We would have welcomed a conversation with them before the release of their work. This also did not happen.”
Following the March 10 verdict, which awarded the Gaye heirs $7.3 million, their attorney filed papers seeking to halt future sales of “Blurred Lines’ until a royalties agreement could be reached giving Marvin Gaye a co- writing credit.
The family is also seeking to “correct” the verdict to include rapper Clifford “T.I” Joseph Harris Jr., as well as labels Universal Music, Interscope Records and Star Trak Entertainment.
Meanwhile, an attorney for Thicke and Williams today filed papers calling the Gayes’ motion “groundless” and “procedurally infirm.”
Lawyer Howard King indicated he plans to file a motion for a new trial, and asked the judge to set an April status conference to discuss post-trial issues.
“The jury verdict against Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke is an abject miscarriage of justice, unsupported by the evidence, and contrary to law,” King wrote. “This case is far from over. It is merely entering a new phase.”
The two-week trial compared “Blurred Lines” to the musical notes of Gaye’s decades-old song since the estate’s copyright covers only the sheet music, not the recording, of “Got to Give It Up.”
Williams spoke out about the case in an interview published today in The Financial Times, saying the verdict “handicaps any creator out there who is making something that might be inspired by something else.”
“There was no infringement,’ Williams said. “You can’t own feelings and you can’t own emotions … (in music) there are only the notations and the progression. Those were different.’
In their letter, the Gaye family said that if Thicke and Williams had attempted to create a new song “and coincidentally infused ‘Got to Give It Up’ into their work, instead of deliberately undertaking to ‘write a song with the same groove,’ we would probably be having a different conversation.”
The Gayes wrote that the case would never have reached a courtroom had Thicke and Williams licensed and secured the song for appropriate usage, “a simple procedure usually arranged in advance of the song’s release.”
Since the proceedings, the family has reportedly noted some similarities between Gaye’s “Ain’t That Peculiar’ and Williams’ “Happy,’ though the family confirmed in the open letter that they “have absolutely no claim whatsoever concerning ‘Happy.”‘
— City News Service
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