Gaye Don’t Got To Give It Up

Years before I was a lawyer, I saw Vanilla Ice on The Tonight Show.  Jay Leno asked whether his song, Ice Ice Baby (listen to seconds 8-24) sounds like David Bowie’s Under Pressure (listen to seconds 9-20).  I’ve not seen a transcript of the interview, but my memory is that Vanilla (or Mr. Ice?) said something like: “Not really.  His goes “doo-doo-doo da-da-doo-doo.”  Mine goes “doo-doo-doo da-da-doo-doo, chuh.”  Everyone laughed.  But Vanilla ultimately admitted that he had sampled from the Queen and David Bowie song, paid up and gave them credit.

Flash forward 25 years: Pharrell and Robin Thicke are seeking a declaration that Blurred Lines (listen to seconds 6-16) does not infringe the copyright of Marvin Gaye’s Got To Give It Up (listen to seconds 6-20).

A California District Court Judge denied Pharrell and Thicke’s motion for summary judgment, and set the case for trial in February 2015.  He found that “the Gaye family has offered sufficient evidence to create triable issues about whether their 11-note signature phrase, four-note hook, four-bar bass line, 16-bar harmonic structure and four-note vocal melody are protectable expressions.”

What do you think?