Last week’s ruling against Robin Thicke and Pharrell has proven to be one of the most controversial stories of the year in the music world. On one side, there are folks who support the court’s decision that “Blurred Lines” copies Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up.” There are also people, many of which are artists and industry professionals, who believe the ruling sets a dangerous precedent and could stifle creativity.
One of the most high-profile artists to speak out is Laidback Luke. The Dutch heavyweight, who himself has been involved in copyright lawsuits, penned an op-ed for Billboard earlier this week about the ruling. Below are some of the main points he made in the candid piece.
He believes “Blurred Lines” is similar to “Got to Give It Up,” but he doesn’t think they’re the same.
“In the ‘Blurred Lines’ case, I can hear is a same type of groove and a similar sounding Rhodes organ that doesn’t even play the same notes. I’d even go so far to say that ‘Blurred Lines’ is just a similar style of track as ‘Got To Give It Up.’ Style as in genre.”
In terms of note progressions, he thinks creativity is limited.
“In dance music alone, there are at least 3,000 new tracks released every week. Surely almost anything you can think of has already been done? For instance, people think I jacked Tujamo’s ‘Boneless’ with my track ‘Bae,’ whereas I didn’t have it in mind at all while producing. Unless we somehow invent new notes, the progressions that we can make are not infinite. The notes themselves have never been copyrighted, so how many notes does it take to claim it as a copyrighted sample? Everyone will recognize the first 3 to 4 notes in ‘Get Ready For This’ before any vocal even drops in.”
He believes being influenced is inevitable.
“Being creative draws upon the collection of music in your head. It sits there and anything around you can influence you. Anything you heard in your past that made an impression on you will affect your style. I often find myself just being a collection of anything Daft Punk meets Timbaland meets the The Neptunes meets J Dilla, and that molded into a format that I can play out as a DJ. Being influenced seems inevitable, and there’s almost always something out there that sounds similar to what you’re making.”
He thinks the ruling poses a threat to new artists.
“The fact is, this very second some kid somewhere is taking my music, chopping it up, looking at it sideways, replaying it and then calling it his own. They are the future. If that stops, the music stops. However, a new standard has been set. Those ‘Blurred Lines’ suddenly became dangerously Thicke.”
Related: Jury Rules Against Robin Thicke & Pharrell in ‘Blurred Lines’ Trial