Remember the Vanilla Ice copyright infringement case? Queen and David Bowie sued Vanilla Ice after it became abundantly clear that “Ice Ice Baby” had sampled the baseline from Queen and Bowie’s hit “Under Pressure.” Listen:

Hear the extra note in Vanilla Ice’s version? The case may have settled out of court, but anyone who listens to the two songs together knows that that one little note wasn’t exactly a gamechanger.

The entertainment industry(‘s lawyers) are buzzing about copyright again, this time about a lawsuit filed by Marvin Gaye’s children after they noticed that breakout hit “Blurred Lines” penned by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams borrowed heavily from Marvin Gaye’s classic “Got to Give it Up.” Yesterday a jury awarded Gaye’s family over seven million dollars to compensate for a borrowed baseline that earned Thicke and his crew over $20 million in royalties and revenue.

Let’s take a listen. Here’s “Got to Give it Up”:

Here’s “Blurred Lines” (probably NSFW, so minimize that window):

Here’s the two mashed together:

The LA Times explains the problem:

The Gayes contended that they instantly recognized striking similarities between the two songs when they first heard “Blurred Lines.” They called to the stand a musicologist who analyzed the songs and concluded there was a “constellation” of eight similar elements. Others outside court had also noticed similarities, including reviewers, fans and one person who overlaid the two songs for a mix uploaded to YouTube.

An attorney for the Gaye children, Richard Busch, said there were copied elements — including the bass and keyboard line, the hook and a repeated theme — in all but two bars of “Blurred Lines.”

Busch also repeatedly pointed to statements made by the credited writers of the song — Thicke and Williams — referencing the late Motown legend in interviews about their writing process. Thicke said in several interviews that he suggested to Williams that they write something like “Got to Give It Up,” and Williams has said he was “trying to pretend” he was Gaye when he wrote it.

Attorneys for both Thicke and Williams tried to play off those comments, but it obviously didn’t work—the music spoke for itself.

Thicke isn’t the only artist who has been caught with his toe in someone else’s chord pool. Recently breakout artist and my personal favorite Grammy winner Sam Smith quietly settled a dispute filed by Tom Petty over similarities between Smith’s award winning “Stay with Me,” and Petty’s immortal “I Won’t Back Down.” Take a listen:

Poll for the comments: does it even matter? All that crap sounds the same, anyway…


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