Payton & Associates, LLC
Commercial Litigation Attorneys
Miami, Florida

Children of singer Marvin Gaye sue for breach of contract

It turns out the "blurred lines" referenced in this summer's hit song were not the only lines crossed, as artist Robin Thicke and record label EMI are both being sued for its release. The family of Marvin Gaye, known to Florida fans as a legend of soul music, has launched two separate lawsuits against Thicke and EMI respectively, one for copyright infringement and the other for breach of contract. The suits have not yet been presented in a court setting.

According to the Gaye family, the breach of contract on EMIs part stems from a failure to protect the copyright for the late singer's songs. EMI, which is owned by media giant Sony/ATV Music Publishing, routinely publishes music produced by Pharell Williams, the producer behind "Blurred Lines". According to EMIs representation, attempts have been made to reach a settlement with the Gaye family out of court, to no avail.

The company has fired back that upon first hearing about the claim of copyright infringement, they hired two separate musicologists to determine whether "Blurred Lines" infringed upon the Marvin Gaye song "Got To Give It Up". Apparently these musicologists reported the songs were sufficiently divergent to not infringe on the copyright. Regardless, the family plans to move forward with breach of contract and fiduciary duty suits against the media conglomerate.

Copyright law can be a complicated matter on its own, and when contracts are involved, that complication can multiply. Florida musicians are keenly aware of how important intellectual property can be. If EMI is found to be in breach of contract in defending the property of a legendary singer, it will be taken to task. Contracts are an integral part of the American business landscape and must be honored in accordance with applicable law and the understanding of the parties.

Source:, Tiffany, Hasbro, MotionPoint: Intellectual Property, Ellen Rosen, Nov. 1, 2013

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