2 famous musicians were fined up to $20 million for music violations

2 famous musicians were fined up to $20 million for music violations - 73

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Music plagiarism is a serious offense that can result in legal consequences and damage to one’s reputation. However, the line between inspiration and imitation is not always clear, especially in the music industry where genres, styles, and influences are constantly evolving and blending.
As we will share below, there are 2 famous musicians who have received lawsuits of up to millions of dollars, including: Ed Sheeran, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams.
[h2]Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams[/h2]
Case for Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, who faced a long-running lawsuit accusing them of copying Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up” in their 2013 smash “Blurred Lines”.
The lawsuit was filed by Marvin Gaye’s children, Nona, Frankie, and Marvin III, who claimed that “Blurred Lines” infringed on the copyright of their father’s song. They argued that Thicke and Williams copied the distinctive bass line, keyboard chords, percussion, vocal melodies, and overall groove of “Got to Give It Up”. They also alleged that Thicke had a history of admiring and emulating Gaye’s music.
Thicke and Williams denied the allegations, stating that they only drew inspiration from Gaye’s style of music, but did not copy any specific elements of his song. They maintained that “Blurred Lines” was an original creation that reflected their own artistic expression and creativity. They also pointed out that there were significant differences between the two songs, such as the lyrics, tempo, structure, and instrumentation.
The case went to trial in 2015, where both sides presented their evidence and arguments to a jury of eight people. The jury heard testimony from music experts, witnesses, and the artists themselves. They also listened to both songs, but only based on the sheet music, as the judge ruled that the sound recordings were not admissible. This was because Gaye’s song was registered under the old copyright law that only covered the composition, not the sound.
After a week of deliberation, the jury reached a verdict in favor of Gaye’s family. They found that Thicke and Williams had indeed infringed on Gaye’s song, and awarded them $7.3 million in damages. This was later reduced to $5.3 million by the judge, who also granted Gaye’s family 50% of the future royalties from “Blurred Lines”. Thicke and Williams appealed the verdict, but it was upheld by a federal appeals court in 2018. The case finally ended in 2019 with a final judgment of $5 million against Thicke and Williams.
The verdict was met with mixed reactions from the music industry and the public. Some praised it as a victory for justice and originality, while others criticized it as a threat to creativity and innovation. Some also questioned the validity of the jury’s decision, as they were not allowed to hear the actual songs or consider other factors such as genre conventions and cultural influences.
The case also raised important questions about the definition and scope of music plagiarism. How similar is too similar? How much can one borrow from another without crossing the line? How can one prove or disprove musical similarity? These are some of the blurred lines that musicians and courts will have to navigate in the future.
[h2]Ed Sheeran[/h2]
Ed Sheeran, one of the most popular and successful singers in the world, has faced several accusations of plagiarism and copyright infringement over his songs. Some of these cases have been settled out of court, while others have gone to trial. Here is a brief overview of some of the most notable lawsuits involving Ed Sheeran:
In 2016, the heirs of Ed Townsend, the co-writer of Marvin Gaye’s classic song “Let’s Get It On”, sued Sheeran for allegedly copying the melody, harmony, and rhythm of the song in his hit “Thinking Out Loud”.
They claimed that Sheeran had “copied and exploited, without authorization or credit” the Gaye song. A similar lawsuit was filed by Structured Asset Sales, a company that owns a portion of Townsend’s estate. Both cases were dismissed by a jury in 2023, after Sheeran testified and performed both songs in court.
In 2017, two songwriters, Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard, sued Sheeran for $20 million, claiming that his song “Photograph” was a “note-for-note copy” of their song “Amazing”, which was recorded by Matt Cardle in 2012.
They alleged that Sheeran had access to their song through his former label and publisher. The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount in 2018.
In 2018, another songwriter, Jasmine Rae, sued Sheeran for $5 million, alleging that his song “The Rest of Our Life”, which he co-wrote for Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, was “blatantly copied” from her song “When I Found You”, which was released in 2014.
She claimed that Sheeran had heard her song through a mutual friend who was also his co-writer on the song. The case was dismissed in 2019 after the parties reached an agreement.
In 2018, Sheeran preemptively sued Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue, two grime artists who perform under the name Sami Switch, for claiming that his song “Shape of You” had copied parts of their song “Oh Why”, which was released in 2015.
They alleged that the “Oh I” hook in Sheeran’s song was “strikingly similar” to the “Oh why” refrain in their song. After an 11-day trial in 2022, a judge ruled that Sheeran had “neither deliberately nor subconsciously copied” Chokri’s song.
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