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Williams and Thicke ask to see Gaye family’s EMI correspondence

By | Published on Thursday 19 June 2014

Robin Thicke

Legal reps for Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams have asked to see communications between the Gaye family and Sony/ATV/EMI in relation to the ongoing dispute over whether the two men’s controversial hit ‘Blurred Lines’ ripped off Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got To Give It Up’.

As previously reported, the Gaye family first went legal over the alleged song theft last year, possibly because the Thickster told GQ: “Pharrell [Williams] and I were in the studio and I told him that one of my favourite songs of all time was Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got To Give It Up’. I was like, ‘Damn, we should make something like that’ … we literally wrote the song in about a half hour and recorded it”.

Thicke, Williams and the former’s label and publisher Universal are all defendants in the litigation, and for a time so was the Sony/ATV music publishing powerhouse. Indeed the dispute between the Gaye’s and Sony/ATV had extra layers, because the publisher represents both Williams and, through the EMI publishing company it acquired in 2012, the Marvin Gaye repertoire too.

EMI, it seemed, didn’t think there was a case for saying ‘Lines’ coped ‘Give It Up’. But the Gaye family accused Sony/ATV/EMI of failing to protect their copyrights, and indeed of even trying to stop the family itself from taking action, in order to protect the Williams hit. This, said the Gayes, meant they EMI “unworthy of the level of trust and professional conduct which is required of a copyright administrator”.

However, at the start of the year the Gaye family reached an out-of-court settlement with Sony/ATV/EMI, removing them as defendants from the wider lawsuit. But Thicke and Williams want to know what was discussed during the settlement process, because if the EMI publisher maintained its viewpoint that there wasn’t actually a song-theft case to answer, then that could negatively impact on the family’s case.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the two men’s lawyers say that access to correspondence between the Gaye family and Team EMI could “show [the family’s] bad faith in pursuing their claims because their own music publisher, EMI, advised that the claims had no merit”.

But legal reps for the Gaye family do not concur, arguing that any communications between them and EMI are now irrelevant because that side of the dispute has been settled, and anyway the Gaye estate is the legal owner of the ‘Give It Up’ copyright, so Sony/ATV/EMI’s opinion on any song theft claim isn’t relevant either.