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Robin Thicke's Song Sounds Like Marvin Gaye. So He's Suing Gaye's Family.

This is Robin Thicke.
This is Robin Thicke.

"Blurred Lines," this year's song of the summer*, sounds a lot like Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up," one of the songs of the summer of 1977.

In fact, it sounds so much like the Marvin Gaye song that Robin Thicke and the other guys behind Blurred Lines have launched a preemptive strike: They filed a lawsuit against Marvin Gaye's family. Thicke and the other plaintiffs don't want money; they want the court to rule that "Blurred Lines" does not infringe on "Got to Give It Up."

Members of Marvin Gaye's family have reportedly been asking for a cash settlement and threatening to sue, according to the Hollywood Reporter, which broke the story.

The first paragraph on the complaint manages to both praise Gaye and brag about the success of Blurred Lines (emphasis ours):

Plaintiffs, who have the utmost respect for and admiration of Marvin Gaye ... reluctantly file this action in the face of multiple adverse claims ... Defendants continue to insist that plaintiffs' massively successful composition, 'Blurred Lines,' copies 'their' compositions."

The complaint continues:

The basis of the Gaye defendants' claims is that "Blurred Lines" and "Got To Give It Up" "feel" or "sound" the same. 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 ... .

For more Planet Money on music, listen to our recent show, Top Of The Charts (Econ Remix).

* Or maybe the song of the summer is "Get Lucky." Or maybe it's "We Can't Stop," "I Need Your Love" or "Feds Watching."

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Zoe Chace explains the mysteries of the global economy for NPR's Planet Money. As a reporter for the team, Chace knows how to find compelling stories in unlikely places, including a lollipop factory in Ohio struggling to stay open, a pasta plant in Italy where everyone calls in sick, and a recording studio in New York mixing Rihanna's next hit.