Yesha Callahan

What Rhymes With Don’t Sue Me? Robin Thicke Sues To Protect ‘Blurred Lines’ From Marvin Gaye’s Family


It seems as though Robin Thicke is on some “I gotta get mine, before you gotta get yours”, when it comes to dealing with allegations of copyright infringement and a potential lawsuit from Marvin Gaye’s family. Thicke, along with his band of merry men, Pharrell Williams and Clifford Harris, Jr (aka T.I.), filed a lawsuit this week in California federal court against Marvin Gaye’s family and Bridgeport Music, which owns some of Funkadelic’s music.  Apparently, Gaye’s family and Bridgeport have complaints about the similarities between “Blurred Lines” and two other songs.

The lawsuit states, “Plaintiffs, who have the utmost respect for and admiration of Marvin Gaye, Funkadelic and their musical legacies, reluctantly file this action in the face of multiple adverse claims from alleged successors in interest to those artists. Defendants continue to insist that plaintiffs’ massively successful composition, ‘Blurred Lines,’ copies ‘their’ compositions.”

From The Hollywood Reporter:

The suit claims the Gaye family is alleging that “Blurred Lines” and Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” “feel” or “sound” the same, and that the “Gaye defendants are claiming ownership of an entire genre, as opposed to a specific work.”

As for Funkadelic, there’s said to be claimed similarity between Thicke’s hit and Funakedlic’s “Sexy Ways.”

“But there are no similarities between plaintiffs’ composition and those the claimants allege they own, other than commonplace musical elements,” states the lawsuit. “Plaintiffs created a hit and did it without copying anyone else’s composition.”

New York TImes critic has noted that “Blurred Lines” is “influenced heavily” by Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up,” but the lawsuit makes the point that “being reminiscent of a ‘sound’ is not copyright infringement. The intent in producing ‘Blurred Lines’ was to evoke an era.”


Let’s take a listen to both songs. Here’s Marvin Gaye’s song, “Got to Give It Up”, which by the way, my grandmother loves.

And now here’s Robin Thicke’s, “Blurred Lines”.

That bell pattern and bass line, sound familiar?

Because copyright and plagiarism lawsuits are never cut and dry, the Gaye family may have a few issues on their hands.  The lawsuit states, “The Gayes do not have an interest in the copyright to the composition ‘Got To Give It Up’ sufficient to confer standing on them to pursue claims of infringement of that composition.”

These lawyers aren’t dumb.

Basically they’re saying that the Gayes don’t own the copyright of the song, so they can’t sue.  Even though the family is still receiving royalties from Marvin’s music, “Got to Give It Up” is owned by EMI Music Publishing and the master recordings are owned by Universal Music. With that said, the family technically can’t sue Thicke, T.I., or Pharrell.

The Gaye family and Bridgeport Music  threatened to sue if Thicke does not provide a settlement. Thicke and his crew are now going to court to determine if they have any obligation to the family.

If they win, Thicke, Williams and Harris Jr. want the record to state that they did not violate the defendant’s’ rights by copying their songs, but also that the “Gayes do not have an interest in the copyright to the composition ‘Got To Give It Up’ sufficient to confer standing on them to pursue claims of infringement of that composition.”

  1. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    I don’t know who will win the lawsuit, but from the very first time I heard it, I thought “Blurred Lines” sounded like “Got to Give It Up.” When I was young, my Aunt got me a summer job in Cleveland, and I remember hearing “Got to Give It Up” blaring from the speakers of the Native Son lounge on 154th and Kinsman!

    Good memories!

  2. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    When I first heard the song, I heard “Got to give it up” all up and through it. Don’t borrow from the classics if you do not want to pay folks. Marvin’s music is timeless, “Got to give it up” was always favorite of mine

  3. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    Are they serious? When I first heard this song, I thought it was Marvin Gaye’s soundtrack. Give credit where credit is due. With music these days, it’s rarely original if it has any depth to it. These “artists” today want to front as originals, when the majority of their “originality” is of course copied. The Gaye family should sue, simply out of respecting the original creator’s music; and yes, making profit off Marvin Gaye’s music, because it’s very well his song. I don’t appreciate this song nearly as much as the original at all.

    Side note: I wish more artists within the music industry would understand that they are still very well owned. Yes, this family are receiving royalties, but they do not own the song. I’m not into law, but it seems as if they are simply receiving a paycheck as well. However, if I’m wrong, please correct me. Be your own boss, own your own crafts; then you can sue and have a great chance of winning.

    This is no disrespect for the Gaye family, it’s geared towards my generation; where we should be owning our own rights, copies, crafts, land, homes, businesses, etc. This reaches far beyond the music industry, this should be the way of life.

    • August 16, 2013 - Reply


      ITA . Marvin’s effort is superior is every way!

  4. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    Clutch acts like this was the only song made in the last ten years. What is this, the 3rd article about this song. The song wasn’t even that good. Do people like this song so much? Did RT even go platinum? Shows that “R&B” is really on the decline if a mediocore song gets this much attention.

  5. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    The family may not have standing to sue, but the music for that song is Got To Give It Up through and through. I think Got to Give It Up is coming on every time the other song comes on.

  6. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    i heard this song from another room. and i thought to myself “when did Michael Jackson do a feature on “Got To Give It Up” then i realized it wasn’t Marvin Gaye song but just the exact same beat. .So I went to google the sample and surprised it wasn’t listed as a sample of Marvin’s song and Michael’s scream.. but then I read this :

    “Blurred Lines” was produced by Thicke and Williams with an intention of creating a sound similar to Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up”. The song was completed in less than an hour.[7] In an interview with GQ’s Stelios Phili, Thicke explained: “Pharrell and I were in the studio and […] I was like, ‘Damn, we should make something like that [“Got to Give It Up”], something with that groove.’

  7. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    They are suing before they have a chance to be sue, interesting. I can hear the Marvin Gaye influence in this song. They should give the credit but hey this is the music BUSINESS. Also am I the only who is not feeling this song like that. I like his “I wanna love you girl” song better.

  8. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    and appropriation by white america to the masses hits in….

  9. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    I’d like to see how this plays out in court. Either way this is “got to give it up” no two ways about it. These artist need to stop stealing / sampling whatever they want to call it no matter who wrote or own the masters or rights. The family is receiving royalties they have some say…I would think.

  10. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    Artist spend all of their money living like royalty and then have to sell publishing and royalties to the record companies.

  11. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    And the lesson here boys and girls? Never. EVER sell your publishing rights. I remember back in the day when Whitney released I Will Always Love You. And people were saying they liked her version better than Dolly Parton’s. Dolly was like, I like her version better, too. Dolly was getting paid. Be smart.

  12. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    When I heard Blurred Lines, it reminded me of a song, but I just couldn’t remember what song. Well, you know how something just stays in your mind, like a puzzle or riddle just waiting to be solved? Well just this morning it came to me: a song by Marvin Gaye. Too funny that I got the singer right and Clutch got the song right, for me. Oh and by the way, Blurred Lines sounds very much like Mr. Gaye’s song.

  13. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    The very first time I heard “Blurred Lines” I thought “Oh, Pharrell sampled Got to Give it Up”… How can you listen to Blurred Lines and NOT hear Got to Give it Up. In addition, I can also hear elements of “Don’t Stop til You Get enough” by MJ.

    I’m actually very disappointed in Pharrell and his sloppy production. I’m tired of these artists claiming to be inspired by the great artists of the past, yet having no problem stealing their music without giving credit for it. How dare he even steal from Marvin Gaye’s catalog for non-singing-ass Robin Thicke?!

  14. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    For such a mediocre song it sure is bringing the controversy. It amazes me that people are just now figuring this out. When I first heard it I was like, ‘Um this is Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up”‘. It’s lazy to do this and patronizing to music and Marvin fans like myself, because who wants to hear “Got To Give It Up” done again and done so mediocre? But to sue before being sued is an all around ‘wow’. As much as I like Thicke’s music, he is really being shady with this, ‘evoke an era’, yeah right. I agree with those talking about keeping your copyrights on lock. People need to learn to do this, esp. in the Internet era. It’s one of the reasons why I don’t share my artwork and writings on the net, lord knows who will steal it and try to pass it off as their own PLUS get paid for it.

  15. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    i hear how the two songs can sound like they are from the same genre but i don’t hear the same beat.

  16. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    This is disgraceful. For a group of people who claim to have respect for Marvin’s legacy, they sure are trying to get one over on his family. Of course they sampled! And if they drag this out, I’ll be sure to turn my radio off every time one of their songs come on. All this over a song that says nothing about anything. Disgraceful!

  17. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    P.S. I hope they get a judge who knows music. Stinking thieves!

  18. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    Oh, they’ve “Got to Give It UP” and pay the Gaye family their royalty check! Ugh, makes me just want to listen to classic R&B and pretend the last 20-30 years in music never happened

  19. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    Young folks, I’m pretty sure that Pharrell and Thicke did not sample Marvin Gaye. they copied him the old fashioned way: they simple played a very, very similar sounding song with live musicians. If this were an sample unauthorized sample, the case would be open and shut.

    The young folks crack is for those of you who came of age hip hop and samples. In the last ten years or so, the number of samples in new music has actually declined and the use of actual musicians has increased.

    • August 16, 2013 - Reply


      It’s not sampled. A sample is the incorporation of an original digital recording into another creative project. That is not what happened on Blurred Lines. Blurred Lines uses a very similar beat, chord changes, and bassline played by new musicians.

      • August 16, 2013 - Reply


        That is what I thought–I mean you can immediately hear the Marvin Gaye influence in this song, from “Got to Give it Up” in particular–but shiit I thought it was well known that Robin Thicke’s whole catalog was heavily influenced by Marvin Gaye and soul singers of the past. They must have copied this one to the T for this preemptive strike.

      • August 16, 2013 - Reply


        @LMO85, Blurred Lines is a super close, close enough for serious consideration of copyright infringement. I remember when Huey Lewis and News sued Ray Parker Jr. because they claimed Ghostbusters sounded just like I Need a New Drug. Huey Lewis won and pretty much killed Ray Parker Jr.’s career. For those who are too young, go to YouTube and check those songs out. If Huey Lewis can win, I think the Gay family certainly has a case.

        For what is worth, I like Robin Thicke, but he needs to pony up royalties to Marvin Gay’s family.

  20. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    So not only is the song rapey but they sampled Marvin Gaye’s music and refuse to pay royalty? Oh no, just pay the royalty and give respect where it is due. When I first heard the song I thought it sounded familiar but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I hope the family wins.

  21. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    Yeah, cosigning errybody who recognized this song was “Got to Give It Up” incognito. It was obvious to me the first time I heard it on the radio. I’m very interested to see how this lawsuit turns out.

  22. August 17, 2013 - Reply

    Pharell and thicke even admitted in an interview that they based their song on Gaye’s. it’s a shame really.

    • August 17, 2013 - Reply


      Pharrell, Thicke, and TI, argue that they took inspiration from Marvin Gaye, but they are not using the same chord changes, melody, or bassline.

      I think they owe the Gaye estate, but Thicke & Co. may have a good legal case.

  23. August 17, 2013 - Reply

    What songs nowadays are original? Every song has sampled something. I personally did not think of Marvin Gaye’s song when I heard Blurred Lines but listening to it now, it clearly sounds similar. Artists are not original nowadays. They sample/redo lots of classic music.

  24. August 21, 2013 - Reply

    They arent wrong. Its a smart business move imo. A song sounding like another one doesnt mean that it was sampled/recreated. The family suing would be a huge waste of time for everyone involved and would kill music if they were to win being as though most music is inspired by something. I get why people are emotional about it but im not mad them *shrug*

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