Tool, Linkin Park + Others Warn Courts of Danger to Music Community Over ‘Blurred Lines’ Copyright Ruling
If you don't venture much outside of the hard rock and metal world, it's quite possible that the copyright infringement suit surrounding the Pharrell Williams / Robin Thicke song "Blurred Lines" might not have turned up on your radar, but the effect of the ruling could have repercussions further reaching into all genres. As such an eclectic group of artists have joined together to share their concern moving forward as an appeal on the ruling is underway.
In the original case, the similarities between "Blurred Lines" and the Marvin Gaye classic "Got to Give It Up" became the focus. In the end, Gaye's family was awarded $5.3 million in damages and 50 percent of royalties from the song, but it also set a new precedent for copyright cases that has many artists concerned.
Members of Tool, Linkin Park, Great White, Weezer's Rivers Cuomo, Poison's Rikki Rockett and a number of acts and producers across a variety of genres have signed an amicus brief supporting Pharrell Williams' and Robin Thicke's appeal in the case. As the brief notes, "Blurred Lines" and "Got to Give It Up" have completely different melodies and song structures, do not share any lyrics or even "a sequence of even two chords played in the same order or for the same duration." But the court ruled that "Blurred Lines" mimicked the "vibe" of "Got to Give It Up," and that is something that previously had not been covered under the copyright protection.
"The verdict in this case threatens to punish songwriters for creating new music that is inspired by prior works," reads the brief that was penned by attorney Ed McPherson. "All music shares inspiration from prior musical works, especially within a particular musical genre. By eliminating any meaningful standard for drawing the line between permissible inspiration and unlawful copying, the judgment is certain to stifle creativity and impede the creative process. The law should provide clearer rules so that songwriters can know when the line is crossed, or at least where the line is."
The brief goes on to add, "One can only imagine what our music would have sounded like if David Bowie would have been afraid to draw from Shirley Bassey, or if the Beatles would have been afraid to draw from Chuck Berry, or if Elton John would have been afraid to draw from the Beatles, or if Elvis Presley would have been afraid to draw from his many influences."
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