Blurred lines ripped off the "feel"

Boomka

Platinum Member
http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/12/entertainment/blurred-lines-lawyer-billboard-feat/

This is an interesting copyright development, I think it is a good thing for drumming, especially looking at parts of the songs as compositional elements, but it kind of makes me wonder if Marvin Gaye made sure those who inspired his rhumba feel were credited properly.
How is it good for drumming when about 95% of what we play has been played by someone else or is only a minor variation? Wouldn't we all then be open to lawsuits against us if we play beats without permission?
 

makinao

Silver Member
Does this mean Colleen Williams can come after any of us if we play the "Fred" hihat figure? :)
 

Macarina

Silver Member
Ok, I'm going to tell ya all right now. I just submitted for my copyright for 'triplets' and 'fills'. You heard me... any fill.

Ch-Ching
 

Bull

Gold Member
Terrible...terrible decision. Words and melody are covered by the copyright. It isn't even close. I hope they can appeal.
 

FiveString

Member
It's a terrible decision.

There are only so many grooves, and they've all been played by someone at this point.

My fingers are also crossed for an appeal.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
While picking apart and listening ad nauseam to "Blurred Lines" in order to copy it as "Word Crimes", at no time did I think 'hey, this sounds like that Marvin Gaye song' or even 'hey, this sounds familiar.' After I became aware of the suit, I could hear why people thought they sounded similar/alike, but I think the jury was very skillfully led to that decision. Or, the defense simply didn't do their job. Maybe they should have called us, nobody examines every split second of a song like we do!

I'm particularly astounded that so much money is at stake. Even as a top song of the year, that's a HUGE amount of money for a single to generate! They must be talking about the gross, but that's still a lot. Thicke and Pharrell can't possibly be responsible for the $7m+, their cut is nowhere near that.

Bermuda
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
People bitch about Spotify, but they pay out pretty well for huge hit songs. YouTube and Pandora do not, that's a different thing. The problem is when you're a local artist with a local audience and expecting to make windfall profits on songs that have a few thousand streams.

I have to say, the moment I first heard the song, I thought it was the Marvin Gaye song or at least a sample.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Thicke and Pharrell can't possibly be responsible for the $7m+, their cut is nowhere near that.
Copyright law is a little squirley, as it uses the civil concept of 'damages' to determine awards. Damages can exceed the profit.

I'm looking for the docs on PACER once my access is restored. In order to get that kind of award, it would have to be classified as a derivative work. Basically, the defendant would have had to have admitted listening to the MG song and deriving the new work from it.

Does anyone else here have access? Law enforcement, Lawyers, Legal Aids among us?
 

Zero Mercury Drummer

Senior Member
What's really crazy about this is the jury didn't even hear the original Marvin Gaye song. They had to hear a remake that didn't even have vocals.
This is apparently because of copyright issues.

What about every single Blues song ever written with the same beat, chord progression and vocal cadence? Can this thing be appealed?
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
What about every single Blues song ever written with the same beat, chord progression and vocal cadence? Can this thing be appealed?
And that's the thing about the current incarnation of copyright. If they can prove you copied, or derived, then you're screwed.

For example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=et98Hq96J7c

I just took the chords from Kashmir, and the right hand from some old Marshall Tucker Band song (Cantcha see?), and inverted Jimmi Page's chord progression. This is one of many tools that writers use, and I have no moral issue with it.

Blamo.. New song!

Now if Jimmi reads this, he can DCMA my ass, because I've now admitted it's a derivative work. I derived a song from one of his and admitted it like a fool.

Had I kept my mouth shut, he would have had to sue me and proven the derivation and damages.

Breaking the law, Breakin the law.... Do Lang, Doo Lang.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
I just took the chords from Kashmir, and the right hand from some old Marshall Tucker Band song (Cantcha see?), and inverted Jimmi Page's chord progression. This is one of many tools that writers use, and I have no moral issue with it.
Nice example.
No lawsuit though - yours sounds like neither tune it was derived from :)

First time I heard Blurred Lines thought it "sounded like" the Gaye song.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Nice example.
No lawsuit though - yours sounds like neither tune it was derived from :)

First time I heard Blurred Lines thought it "sounded like" the Gaye song.
But it 'is' a derivative. I intentionally took two songs, re-jiggered them, and admitted to the infringement. All that would need to happen is for Jimmi to sue, prove damages, and for this post to be "copied" into evidence at trial, and I lose. No need for the jury to hear the original.

Even the Marshall tucker guys could have it taken down for the same reason, because I intentionally copied them as well.
 
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SmoothOperator

Gold Member
How is it good for drumming when about 95% of what we play has been played by someone else or is only a minor variation? Wouldn't we all then be open to lawsuits against us if we play beats without permission?
I guess I think drum parts are relegated to beats and don't get recognition as compositional elements like words and melodies, and by getting recognition even as just feel it would require composers to but effort into creating better parts for drums or at least new parts. IE we listen to the same Ol beats all the time and they suck, because composers can get away with ripping them off over and over again, writing new words and a lead line to the same old music. There are many ways to come up with new beats, but there is no incentive to do so without copyright protection.
 

JustJames

Platinum Member
But it 'is' a derivative. I intentionally took two songs, re-jiggered them, and admitted to the infringement. All that would need to happen is for Jimmi to sue, prove damages, and for this post to be "copied" into evidence at trial, and I lose. No need for the jury to hear the original.

Even the Marshall tucker guys could have it taken down for the same reason, because I intentionally copied them as well.
I'm no copyright expert, but you haven't copied the song. You created something new, using somebody else's songs as your jumping off point.

Similar case in point. I was reading up on the Beatles' "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" recently. Lennon describes this as something he wrote during his "Dylan period". Sure it's Dylanesque, but it doesn't sound like any particular Dylan song. Ergo no copyright infringement.

An amusing look at song similarities....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pidokakU4I
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
Bermuda, probably nobody is more familiar with the nuances of music copyrighting than you. In your opinion, was Stay With Me a more or less obvious derivative than Blurred Lines?

My two-bit opinion is that Stay With Me was more of a slam-dunk according to the letter of the law. But I think it was less obvious, because it was really a gospel song that stole from a country rock song and was more disguised because of it.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I would say that "Stay With Me" was much more obvious than "Blurred Lines" or now "Happy," the claim being that it sounds like Marvin Gaye's "Ain't That Peculiar" (but it's not Marvin's song... Smokey and the Miracles wrote that, and Smokey produced the recording.)

They should have called us about Happy as well, we parodied that last year! Again, at no time did I think 'this sounds like the Marvin Gaye song' or 'this sounds somehow familiar'.

Bermuda
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
Moar Cowbell!

From having played both, I can attest that the latin cowbell figure in Blurred Lines is much more difficult than Give It Up. ;-)

Bass line has the same time figure but propulsive bass lines on upbeats is a standard thing in most latin music (amongst latin musicians or bass players who know what they're doing).

As everyone else has said, the changes are basic blues (which doesn't have to be 12 bars as anyone who's played with an old real deal bluesman can attest).

Supposedly the jury was given lead sheets to compare. Which is not how songs are constructed these days. I'll bet Marvin went into the studio and sang or tapped out some latin rhythms that the cats picked up on and just played. That song has always sounded like a jam to me. And Pharell sits down with a computer full of samples and builds up a groove he likes. Comparing lead sheets is relying on whoever transcribed the songs. If they did a simplified transcription I'm sure a clever lawyer could show a jury of non-musicians how the dots for various instruments line up the same.

Similar to the Mayer thing and What's Going On, which much more precisely aped the original.
 
I haven't seen the legal docs yet either but I think people are missing the point. I remember when the Gaye estate first mentioned the idea of a lawsuit and people scoffed. Thicke et al tried to do a 'preemptive lawsuit' to prevent the estate from filing any claim (very bad gamble).

If anything this highlights the mess that is copyright (thank you Disney), publishing and outdated licensing models.
 
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