Blurred Lines Open Letter

Wait, There's More: Marvin Gaye's Children Pen Open Letter About 'Blurred Lines'

The Gaye family cleared the air about the "Blurred Lines" lawsuit and other lawsuit rumors in an open letter.

Marvin Gaye's family has been making a lot of headlines lately. After coming out victorious in the “Blurred Lines” lawsuit against Pharrell and Robin Thicke, Gaye's children wrote an open letter explaining what they feel are “misconceptions” about the case, how their father would have handled the situation and finally putting to rest the rumors about the “Happy” lawsuit.

Nona Gaye, Frankie Gaye and Marvin Gaye III wrote that if Thicke and Pharrell approached the family about using “Got to Give It Up” as their inspiration for “Blurred Lines,” then the whole situation would have been a lot different. Gaye's kids said they did this to protect the music.

Read the full letter below:

An Open Letter from the Children of Marvin Gaye 3/18/15

We want to extend our deepest appreciation and gratitude for the outpouring of love and support we have received from all of our father’s fans and friends, as well as artists and industry folks who contacted us surrounding the recent events concerning his song, “Got to Give It Up.” Your kindness and encouragement gave us incredible strength and perseverance. We are so incredibly grateful for your support as well as the hard work and dedication of our amazing legal team and experts. We thank you all.
We especially want to thank our mom Jan for her belief in what we were doing all along, and for her never ending support.

We will celebrate what would have been our dad’s 76th birthday next month, and though we miss him every day — just like the many thousands of well-wishers who have expressed their heartfelt goodwill — it is through his music that we find our compass and our paths moving forward. We are his children, but we too are his fans and we hold his music dear.
It is in that spirit and on behalf of all those who Dad always considered an extended family, his fans, we take this opportunity to set the record straight on a few misconceptions echoing through some news and social media platforms about our intentions, our plans, and the so-called ‘larger’ ramifications of this case within the music industry.
Originally released in 1977, “Got to Give It Up” became one of our dad’s most cherished hits, still a favorite at backyard barbecues, weddings, parties, on the radio, or on your iPod. As Oprah said, it is one of her “favorite party songs of all time.” The comments on social media, emails and calls we received after the verdict affirmed for us that the song continues to touch in even deeper ways, becoming part of the soundtrack to so many lives. “Got to Give It Up” is also recognized by Billboard Magazine as the fourth biggest single of the 30 charting hits our dad created during his extraordinary career.

It has been nearly 38 years since its initial release: tastes change, trends evolve, but we should all be able to agree that it’s a testament to the enduring power of “Got to Give It Up” that we have arrived at this juncture with Mr. Thicke and Mr. Williams, at all. The fact that they have openly acknowledged their respect and admiration for the song is public knowledge, and further proof of its resonance with an entirely new generation of music fans.

However, most songwriting begins with an organic approach; a songwriter brings his or her influences to the table and then works creatively from a blank slate in the crafting of their song to ensure originality and the integrity of their creation. If Mr. Thicke and Mr. Williams had tried to create a new song and coincidentally infused “Got to Give It Up” into their work, instead of deliberately undertaking to “write a song with the same groove,” we would probably be having a different conversation.
Like most artists, they could have licensed and secured the song for appropriate usage; a simple procedure usually arranged in advance of the song’s release. This did not happen. We would have welcomed a conversation with them before the release of their work. This also did not happen.

Instead of licensing our father’s song and giving him the appropriate songwriter credit, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams released “Blurred Lines” and then filed a pre-emptive lawsuit against us, forcing us into court. They sought to quickly affirm that their song was “starkly different,” than “Got to Give It Up.” The Judge denied their motion for Summary Judgement, and a jury was charged with determining the “extrinsic and intrinsic similarities” of the songs. The jury has spoken.

We wanted to also make clear that the jury was not permitted to listen to the actual sound recording of “Got to Give It Up.” Our dad’s powerful vocal performance of his own song along with unique background sounds were eliminated from the trial, and the copyright infringement was based entirely on the similarity of the basic musical compositions, not on “style,” or “feel,” or “era,” or “genre.” His song is so iconic that its basic composition stood strong. We feel this further amplifies the soundness of the verdict.
Like all music fans, we have an added appreciation for songs that touch us in mysterious ways. Mr. Thicke and Mr. Williams certainly have a right to be inspired by “Got to Give It Up” but as the jury ruled, they did not have the right to use it without permission as a blueprint for a track they were constructing.

Great artists like our dad intentionally build their music to last, but we as the caretakers of such treasures, have an obligation to be vigilant about preserving the integrity of the music so that future generations understand its origins and feel its effect as the artist intended, and to assure that it retains its value.

We feel as many do that, our father, Marvin Gaye, is an artist for the ages. But whether we’re talking about a work created 50 years ago or a work created 50 years from now — protecting the legacy of original artistry is not a personal obligation, but a universal commitment in support of enduring creative achievement, encouraging future artists to also aim for new ground and their own legacies. That is what copyright laws help us do; they give people the incentive to write original songs and then help protect those songs.
Our dad spent his life writing music — that is his legacy to us all — he wrote from his heart and was a brilliant songwriter, arranger, producer and one-of-a-kind vocalist. If he were alive today, we feel he would embrace the technology available to artists and the diverse music choices and spaces accessible to fans who can stream a song at a moment’s notice. But we also know he would be vigilant about safeguarding the artist’s rights; a sacred devotion to not only the artist, but key in encouraging and supporting innovation. He also gave credit where credit is due.

Howard King, the attorney for Mr. Thicke and Mr. Williams stated after the verdict: “We owe it to songwriters around the world to make sure this verdict doesn’t stand. My clients know they wrote the song ‘Blurred Lines’ from their heart and souls and no other source.”
We never for a minute suggested that Mr. Thicke and Mr. Williams’ hearts weren’t in it. But a jury of eight men and women have ruled that the source for “Blurred Lines” was the song “Got to Give It Up,” a song our dad wrote from his heart, and delivered to the world with pure joy.

With the digital age upon us, the threat of greater infringement looms for every artist. It is our wish that our dad’s legacy, and all great music, past, present, and future, be enjoyed and protected, with the knowledge that adhering to copyright standards assures our musical treasures will always be valued.

And finally, we want to put to rest any rumors that we are contemplating claims against Pharrell Williams for his song, “Happy.” This is 100% false. We have absolutely no claim whatsoever concerning “Happy.”

Love and Respect,
Nona, Frankie, and Marvin III

Photo Credit: Getty Images

From the Web

More on Vibe

Getty Images

Kanye West, EMI Working Towards Private Settlement

Kanye West and EMI could be close to settling their legal drama. Each party filed documents requesting a stay of the case to “explore the potential for a resolution,” The Blast reports.

West sued EMI in an effort to “gain freedom” from his contract, and to own his publishing. In the lawsuit, ‘Ye argued that his contract ended in 2010 under California law, which bars entertainers from being tethered to an agreement for more than seven years. The multi-Grammy winner, who signed the deal back in 2003, also accused the company of slavery because the contract doesn’t allow him to retire.

“Even if the contract were not lopsided in EMI’s favor (it is), even if its terms valued Mr. West’s artistic contributions in line with the spectacular success he has achieved for EMI (they do not), and even if EMI had not underpaid Mr. West what it owes him (EMI has), he would be entitled to be set free from its bonds,” the lawsuit reads.

EMI hit back with a countersuit filed in New York, instead of California. The suit pointed out that the 41-year-old rapper signed multiple contract extensions, in addition to accepting millions in advances.

According to The Blast, West and EMI now feel that putting a hold on the legal proceedings will be beneficial to both sides “and the Court by enabling the parties to engage in meaningful discussions in an attempt to resolve this action without having to incur the burden and expense of litigation and motion practice.”

Continue Reading
Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Megan Thee Stallion Mourns Loss Of Her Mother

According to a recent post on Megan Thee Stallion's Instagram account, her mother, Holly Thomas, has passed away.

The rapper revealed the news of her mother's death in an Instagram post on Friday (March 22), publishing a photo of herself with "the strongest woman on the planet."

"The best mom in the whole world," she wrote. "...I can't even put complete sentences together rn RIP mama."

The best mom in the whole world. The strongest woman on the planet. I can’t even put complete sentences together rn RIP mama

A post shared by Hot Girl Meg (@theestallion) on Mar 22, 2019 at 10:49am PDT

Just like the Tina Snow artist, Thomas was a rapper who went by the name of Holly-Wood. With no doubt that her lyrical abilities rubbed off on her daughter, Thomas refused to let the "Tina Montana" emcee rap professionally until she turned 21. Beyond their bond, Megan Thee Stallion's mother doubled as her first assistant and manager.

In VIBE's NEXT feature, the 24-year-old artist revisited the moments her mother listened to her music. “Sometimes when we’re in the studio, I get her so hyped that she’s like, ‘Megan, I’m about to get in the booth and come out with another mixtape,’” she said.

There are currently no reports stating the cause of death.

Continue Reading
A 7,62X39mm round sits next a a 30 round magazine and an AK-47 with a bump stock installed at Good Guys Gun and Range on February 21, 2018 in Orem, Utah. The bump stock is a device when installed allows a semi-automatic to fire at a rapid rate much like a fully automatic gun. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

Teachers Will Be Allowed To Carry Firearms In New Florida School Bill

A new bill has been approved by the Florida House committee that would allow the arming of teachers in classrooms.

The Sun-Sentinel reports the bill, gives educators the option to carry weapons on school grounds. The legislation was made following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year. It also indicates that educators must have the approval of the school board before carrying a weapon school grounds.

For the teachers who volunteer, they are required to pass a psychological test as well as a drug test, participate in 144 hours of firearms training, and hold a valid concealed weapon permit.

The law was passed on Thursday (March 21) and advocates of the legislation believe that it would work to make the school safer while critics of the law have rejected it and do not feel as though teachers should play the role of law enforcement personnel in these schools. The main proponent for the legislation, as the Sun-Sentinel reported, Republican Rep. Jennifer Sullivan of Eustis advocated strongly for the law.

"The more people that are there to defend students, to defend other teachers, the better. If a teacher does not want to go through the program, I don't want them to go through the program." On the other side of the spectrum, Democratic Rep. Susan Valdes of Tampa had this to say, "teachers want to teach children and broaden children's minds. If they wanted to be a cop, they would have gone to the police academy and become a cop."

Continue Reading

Top Stories