Tag Archives: music law

Why Ed Sheeran should be worried about allegedly copying a Marvin Gaye song

Remember the “Blurred Lines” lawsuit? Well, it set a precedent.

By Danielle Cheesman

To all the brides and grooms who chose Ed Sheeran‘s 2014 hit “Thinking Out Loud” to serve as the soundtrack to their first dance, your marriage is doomed.

Just kidding.

But the track’s legacy is at risk of being tarnished. The song—which was the first to ever to hit 500 million streams on Spotify and won Song of the Year at this year’s Grammy Awards—is being sued by the family of Ed Townsend, who co-wrote and created the musical composition of Marvin Gaye‘s “Let’s Get It On,” for copyright infringement of the 1973 classic.

How so, you might ask, since it samples no beat and borrows no lyrics?

Because of its “heart.” No, really.

Hip-Hop celebrates the life of Marvin Gaye with samples

According to Reuters, the lawsuit, filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York, claims that “the Defendants copied the ‘heart’ of ‘Let’s’ and repeated it continuously throughout ‘Thinking.’ The melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic compositions of ‘Thinking’ are substantially and/or strikingly similar to the drum composition of ‘Let’s.'”

While this may sound like a reach, what Sheeran has working against him is that Gaye grip. The force they flex.

While the Gaye family is not technically involved in Townsend’s suit against Sheeran, let’s not forget that their estate won $7.3 million last year in their lawsuit filed against Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke over the duo’s “Blurred Lines” smash, a song they alleged soundedtoo similar to Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up.”

In that case, Williams and Thicke dismissed the family’s argument,writing that “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.”

Well, their $7.3 million loss says otherwise.

And it became the record high judgment in a copyright infringement suit. So that’s saying something.

A real, authorized Marvin Gaye documentary is finally coming

“Blurred Lines” didn’t go down without a fight though. Back when it was released, even Questlove tried to weigh in with his support for his fellow contemporaries, telling Vulture:

“I’m siding with Robin Thicke; I’m going against the estate of Marvin Gaye. Look, technically it’s not plagiarized. It’s not the same chord progression. It’s a feeling. Because there’s a cowbell in it and a fender Rhodes as the main instrumentation — that still doesn’t make it plagiarized. We all know it’s derivative. That’s how Pharrell works. Everything that Pharrell produces is derivative of another song — but it’s an homage. If it were a case of melodic plagiarism, I would definitely side with the estate. But in this case…I’m still siding with Pharrell and Robin on this one.”

Note Quest’s use of the word “feeling.”

And note this writer’s use of it, as well. Here’s how SPIN‘s Andrew Unterberger—who noticed the similarities over a year ago, before anyone else (and maybe even Townsend) did—wrote about the two current songs in question:

“[‘Thinking Out Loud’] is also an incredibly obvious successor to Marvin Gaye’s 1973 superlative slow jam ‘Let’s Get It On’ — the gently loping four-note bass pattern and crisp ’70s soul drums absolutely smack of the Gaye classic, as do the embrace-insistent lyrics and general candlelit-bedroom feel.”

There it is again.

The point is, Williams and Thicke had to pay up. And if this new precedent set is all about vibesss, there’s a good chance Sheeran will too.

Full Article – https://revolt.tv/stories/2016/08/10/ed-sheeran-worried-allegedly-copying-marvin-gaye-song-8a3ce18fb7

Paramore, former bassist embroiled in legal battle

, nrau@tennessean.com 8:54 p.m. CST March 4, 2016

Paramore and former bassist Jeremy Davis are locked in a legal dispute over whether Davis was an employee for the Nashville pop-rock band or a partner in the underlying business entitled to a share of royalties and touring revenue.


Varoom Whoa, the business entity that operates Paramore, preemptively sued Davis in Nashville Chancery Court in February. According to the lawsuit, Varoom Whoa is fully owned by front woman Hayley Williams.

Davis left the band in December 2015 in a seemingly amicable separation announced on the band’s Facebook page.

But Davis asserts that he was a partner in the company and entitled to a split of royalties, touring revenue and other income earned by the band. Davis wanted to examine financial documents, which he was not provided. Williams and Varoom Whoa say he was a paid employee, not a partner.

Williams is the one signed to a record contract with Atlantic Records, and she pays her band members as employees.

“Nevertheless, because she wanted to foster a feeling of camaraderie within the band, at her direction, the band members’ salaries included a portion of Williams’ earnings,” the initial lawsuit says.

Davis filed a counterclaim on Friday naming Varoom Whoa, along with Williams and fellow band member Taylor York. The band’s business managers were also named as defendants.

Davis claims Paramore was founded as a partnership between him and Williams. Prior to 2008, York was an employee, until he joined as a partner in the group.

Davis says that he was responsible for decision making, including hiring advisers, musicians, stage crew and equipment managers, plus creating and managing staging and lighting and an array of other duties.

“Thereafter, and at all times relevant hereto, Davis, Williams and York shared equally in all net profits generated by the partnership, from any and all sources, including but not limited to the Atlantic agreement,” Davis claims in his countersuit.

Davis previously left the band in 2004, but rejoined a year later. In December of last year, the band posted a message on its Facebook page about Davis’ departure.

Davis isn’t the first Paramore member to leave amid acrimony. In 2010, guitarist Josh Farro and drummer Zac Farro left the band amid some drama.

“We’re hopeful for Paramore’s future and we’re also excited for what Jeremy’s going to do next. Thank you all for your support and your belief in us,” Paramore said in December. “It’s kept us going.”

Varoom Whoa is seeking for a judge to declare Davis an employee who is ineligible to enjoy the benefits of a business partnership, while Davis is seeking for the company to be recognized as a partnership that entitles him to unspecified damages.

Reach Nate Rau at 615-259-8094 and on Twitter @tnnaterau.

Sourced From – http://www.tennessean.com/story/money/industries/music/2016/03/04/paramore-former-bassist-embroiled-legal-battle/81341824/