Copywriting issues are nothing new in the music industry, and are made more and more prevalent with as technology makes practices like sampling accessible top everyone. With such a heavy volume of songs streaming through the internet and the airwaves these days, similar sounding tunes and suspiciously familiar chord progressions are bound to pop up from time to time.

Within the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen two such cases come up in relation to two of the summer’s most popular jams. The first involved a little ditty called ‘Blurred Lines’ – perhaps you’ve heard of it? With the amount of attention and airplay this tune has picked up the past few months, and with the old-school feel of the instrumentals, we could expect someone out there would find a reason to take issue. Or perhaps even multiple people! After claims were made that “Blurred Lines” sounds conspicuously similar to Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got to Give it Up’ and Funkadelic’s ‘Sexy Ways’, Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and Clifford Harris Jr. filed for a declaratory judgment against Gaye’s family and Bridgeport Music, in hopes of nipping this thing in the bud before it has the chance to develop into a legal nightmare. Poor Thicke – the dude just tries to make a fun song, and now on top of widespread accusations that he’s ‘rapey’, he’s a thief as well!

The lines are so blurred (apologies) when it comes to copyright law that it’s anybody’s guess who’ll win this one, although from a neutral standpoint it looks as though Gaye’s heirs and Bridgeport Music aren’t on particularly strong ground. There are similarities to be found between the two songs for sure, but there doesn’t seem to be any true copyright infringement. Either way, it’s surely still a bit of a headache for all parties involved. Especially when we compare it to what’s going on with One Direction’s latest single, ‘Best Song Ever’.


Can a tune named ‘Best Song Ever’ really be stolen from a previously released song? The irony is thick in that one, folks. Alas, the similarities to The Who’s beloved classic ‘Baba O’Riley’ are hard to deny. But The Who frontman Pete Townshend had a notably different reaction to the similarities than Gaye’s family and Bridgeport had in the former case. Townshend is actually “honored by the fact that people are inspired by his work, and he doesn’t seem the least bit concerned about any legal implications regarding the likeness between the two. “The chords I used and the chords they used are the same three chords we’ve all been using in basic pop music since Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran and Chuck Berry made it clear that fancy chords don’t mean great music – not always,” he says.

Look, the truth is we live in a society where people find taking legal action to be a go-to solution to just about anything. And that’s not always a bad thing, specifically in the case of music licensing – copyright laws exist for a reason, and like any other law, they should be abided by. There’s a very fine line between inspiration and theft when it comes to copyright infringement in the music industry, and we don’t envy anyone who finds him or herself dealing with the consequences of walking it, whether they meant to or not! There’s some truly cool stuff happening when it comes to industry trends right now… yesterday’s music is undoubtedly and rightfully inspiring today’s top hits, and various generations are enjoying and appreciating the same music in a really great way. There are times to protect your tunes, there’s no doubt about that. But there are also those times to kick back and enjoy what you may have inspired others to create. Personally, I’d be feeling pretty darn cool if a song I wrote decades ago was inspiring today’s biggest hits!