Back in March, a federal jury in California awarded the family of Marvin Gaye 7.4 million dollars for copyright infringement of Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit, “Got to Give It Up”. Was this decision bad for pop music?
I think that this case has the potential of having both positive and negative affects on the music industry. On the one hand, creativity in producing and songwriting could suffer a severe setback from fear that creating any song that is reminiscent of a previous song could result in a finding of copyright infringement. In my opinion, although “Blurred Lines” sounds somewhat like “Got to Give It Up,” from a legal standpoint, it does not have the substantial similarity required to warrant a finding of copyright infringement.
Believe it or not, there is a silver lining to this controversy. I would hope that the fear of being found liable for copyright infringement for creating a similar song will cause songwriters and producers to carefully think about music as an art form and, as a result, begin to utilize their God given creative talents to create wonderful, wholly original songs just like the songwriters and producers of the 60’s and 70’s who did not rely on sampling or strong references to previous hits to create new hits and the soundtrack for their generations. No matter what the outcome, the music industry has undoubtedly become more interesting in the last month, and what would the industry be without lots of creativity and lots of controversy? See you next time!