California residents might be interested to learn about the intellectual property lawsuit that was filed against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams. On Feb. 25, the two musicians appeared in federal court to face allegations that they copied Marvin Gaye's 1977 hit song 'Got to Give It Up" when they composed their hit song 'Blurred Lines."
Thicke and Williams are denying the claim that they infringed on a copyright. As evidence of their innocence, Thicke reportedly performed a medley of popular songs on a keyboard. His courtroom performance was intended to demonstrate how many melodies have similar chord progressions without being outright copies of each other. One of the examples he showed was the similarity between Bob Marley's song, 'No Woman No Cry," and Paul McCartney's song, 'Let It Be."
In a separate situation, a song by One Direction recently made headlines for alleged musical mimicry. The band's song, 'Best Song Ever" was criticized for sounding too similar to the song 'Baba O'Riley" by The Who. However, Pete Townshend from The Who commented that the three chords used in both of those songs were the same chords that have been used in basic pop music since Buddy Holly's time.
Applying for copyright protection may be a good way for an artist to protect original artistic work from being copied. However, many professional musicians, writers and visual artists have such a large collection of original work, making the process of protecting one's work complicated and time consuming. An artist in this position might work with an attorney who could try protecting their intellectual property in court when necessary.
Source: ABC News, "Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams Deny 'Blurred Lines' Copyright Infringement Claim," Doug Vollmayer, Angela Ellis and Linsey Davis, Feb. 27, 2015