For the half-year to 30 June 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Alberto Bellan, Darren Meale and Nadia Zegze.

Two of our regular Kats are currently on blogging sabbaticals. They are David Brophy and Catherine Lee.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Blurred Lines and Best Song Ever hit the dancefloor (and the courtroom?)

In case you were wondering:
Yes, Hula dance champion Merpel
spends her summers in Hawaii
Probably a summer would not feel real without its own musical hits, played non-stop by radios anywhere you go. Similarly, copyright lawyers' summers would not be complete without related (potential) litigation concerning copyright in these songs. This year has been particularly generous, as the IPKat has two summer hits copyright-related stories to report.


Blurred Lines, but a clear case of non-infringement?

Excusatio non petita, accusatio manifesta? IPKat readers who are also keen Latinists will have no difficulty in recalling the meaning of this popular motto ("An unprompted excuse is an obvious self-accusation") and its possible uses in many situations, including copyright-related ones. 

This Kat has recently learnt that, despite Moby's claims of misogyny, 2013 summer #1 song is undoubtedly Blurred Lines by Robert Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams (Top 10 here[note to the self: you know you are no longer a teen when it takes you till August to discover the songs of the summer].

Anyway, via Katfriend Kate McKenna and The Hollywood Reporter, comes news that a couple of days ago Thicke, T.I. (real name: Clifford Joseph Harris Jr) and Williams filed a lawsuit before the US District Court for the Central District of California, Western Division, seeking a declaration that their song does not infringe copyright in Marvin Gaye's Got to Give It Up and Funkadelic's Sexy Ways.

Is Moby over-reacting? 
Although the plaintiffs brought it "reluctantly", the action became necessary following "multiple adverse claims from alleged successors in interest to those artists".    

Among other things, the plaintiffs argue that the Gaye estate notified them that, lacking payment of a monetary settlement, it would have initiated litigation for copyright infringement on Gaye's song because Blurred Lines and Got to Give it Up "feel" or "sound" the same. The plaintiffs responded by saying that 

"Being reminiscent of a "sound" is not copyright infringement. The intent in producing "Blurred Lines" was to evoke an era. In reality, the Gaye defendants are claiming ownership of an entire genre, as opposed to a specific work ..."


(Just) One Direction to court?

1D show their support to the IPKat
While further developments in the Blurred Lines dispute are keenly awaited, the other (potential) case concerns teens' idols One Direction (1D) and their new song (and clear celebration of understatement) Best Song Ever.

According to a review appeared on Click Music,

"Since Sony decided to recruit some of the most creatively barren songwriters in the industry, we find the 1D team resorting to plagiarism once again as The Who's Baba O'Riley is sterilised and repackaged for fans who probably don't know any better. And someone should call Trading Standards over the song title because this represents the laziest, most mind-numbing trends in modern pop."

As reported by The Telegraph, news of this flattering review reached 1D fans over Twitter, where rumours started that the rock band may sue The X Factor finalists over the opening guitar riff of Best Song Ever.

Some well-deserved rest after
voting in the fair use poll
Besides allegations of infringing The Who's copyright, pop culture expert Merpel notes that Best Song Ever's video is filled with "quotations", which range from Tom Cruise's character in Tropic Thunder to the likeness of 1990s boy bands, including Backstreet Boys (remember the cover of Millennium?) and Take That.

By the way, speaking of possible copyright infringements and related defences, do not forget IPKat and The 1709 Blog's joint poll, which asks YOU the following question: 

Do you think that the US fair use defence really makes a difference in terms of user freedoms?

There are just 3 days left before knowing the answer. So, if you have not voted yet, hurry up! You can find the poll at the top of the 1709 Blog sidebar here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a huge Who fan for whom Baba O Reilly is sacred, this makes me feel sick to the stomach that a talentless manufactured boy band (or their songwriters- lets not pretend they write their own music) have stooped so low. Iconic song introduction that has clearly been ripped off in my humble opinion

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