Demand for 'Blurred Lines' Analysis Quashed
(CN) - In the court battle over the inspiration for Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," Marvin Gaye's estate need not produce an expert comparison with Gaye's "Got to Give It Up," a federal judge ruled.
Thicke and his collaborators - singer-producer Pharrell Williams and Clifford Harris Jr. pka T.I. - had filed the suit in August 2013 as "Blurred Lines" hit its 10th week on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Named as defendants in the Los Angeles lawsuit were Bridgeport Music, Frankie Christian Gaye, Marvin Gaye III and Nona Marvisa Gaye.
The action claimed that "Blurred Lines" does not copy "Got to Give It Up" or the Funkadelic's "Sexy Ways," owned by Bridgeport Music.
Gaye's mother, Jan, had already hired musicologist Lawrence Ferrara a month earlier to compare Thicke's song with "Got to Give It Up."
One week after Ferrara filed his report to the Gayes, Thicke and Williams contacted Ferrara for their own report. Since he had already done an analysis for the Gayes, he declined, citing a conflict.
That prompted Thicke and Williams to subpoena Ferrara's files, and the Gayes responded in letter to Thicke with a privilege log, listing the documents the Gayes believe are protected from disclosure in the legal dispute.
In addition to counterclaims Frankie and Nona Gaye filed in Los Angeles, the family moved in Manhattan to quash the subpoena.
U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet granted the motion Monday, noting that the Gayes did not waive their privilege under federal rules governing procedures in civil lawsuits by having "third party" Jan Gaye commission Ferrara's report.
Even if Gaye is a third party under those rules, "her interests were clearly aligned with the Gayes," the New York judge said.
Further, the Gayes did not waive their right to protect the report from disclosure by waiting 19 days after asserting privilege on March 14 to send Thicke a privilege log, Judge Sweet found.
The Gayes' motion for protection was timely filed, and the family members provided sufficient information on the privilege log they sent to Thicke, according to the ruling.
Thicke's record label EMI reportedly settled with the Gayes in January for an undisclosed amount.
In a 2013 interview with GQ magazine, Thicke had said "Blurred Lines" was written and recorded in two hours for his album of the same name.
"Pharrell and I were in the studio and I told him that one of my favorite songs of all time was Marvin Gaye's 'Got to Give It Up,'" Thicke said in the interview. "I was like, 'Damn, we should make something like that, something with that groove.'"
Thicke's complaint insists that the songs have "no similarities ... other than commonplace musical elements."
"The basis of the Gaye defendants' claims is that 'Blurred Lines' and 'Got To Give It Up' 'feel' or 'sound' the same," the complaint states. "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, and Bridgeport is claiming the same work."