We’ve heard this tune before.
Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ and Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got to Give It Up’
A jury recently determined that Katy Perry’s 2013 song “Dark Horse” was copied in part from “Joyful Noise,” a song by Christian rap artist Flame. This brings to mind some other famous music copyright-infringement cases.
Here’s our top 5:
The family of Marvin Gaye, who died in 1984 after being shot to death by his father, went after Thicke along with Pharrell Williams and rapper T.I., the collaborators on the smash-hit 2013 single.
T.I was cleared from the suit, but Thicke and Williams were ordered in 2015 to pay Gaye’s estate more than $7 million on the grounds that their song infringed on Gaye’s 1977 hit. That judgment was reduced to $5.3 million and the pair appealed the verdict.
Vanilla Ice’s ‘Ice Ice Baby’ and Queen/David Bowie’s ‘Under Pressure’
Last year the five-year court battle ended with Gaye’s family being awarded a final judgment of nearly $5 million.
So yes … they had to give it up.
The rapper initially denied that the bass line for his 1989 hit was sampled from the 1981 rock collaboration between Queen and Bowie.
Ice claimed his song had a beat between the notes which made his song different, though he later said he was just joking with that defense.
After a lawsuit was threatened, the case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.
Huey Lewis and the News’ ‘I Want A New Drug’ and Ray Parker Jr.’s ‘Ghostbusters’
It was a battle of mid-80s’ artists after Lewis alleged that Parker Jr. lifted from his song for the 1984 movie theme.
According to Mental Floss, producers of the film played the 1983 Lewis track for Parker Jr. as the type of sound they were looking for.
Lewis sued for $5 million and the pair settled out of court in 1995, with terms that included neither side discussing the case.
But Lewis did, talking to VH1’s “Behind the Music” in 2001.
Parker Jr. sued him for breaking their agreement, but the result of that suit has not been made public.
Roy Orbison’s ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’ and 2 Live Crew’s ‘Pretty Woman’
This case made it all the way to the Supreme Court.
The “As Nasty as They Wanna Be” rap group sampled Orbison’s classic tune and ran afoul of the song’s publisher, Acuff-Rose.
In 1994 the courts ruled that the rap song was a parody and therefore qualified for fair use.
Spirit’s ‘Taurus’ and Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’
Filed in 2014, this suit claimed that Led Zeppelin took the opening section of what is now one of rock music’s most famous epics from a song titled “Taurus” by a lesser-known band that toured with Led Zeppelin in their early days.
It was was filed on behalf of musician/songwriter Randy Craig Wolfe, a Spirit band member who was known professionally as “Randy California.”
In April 2016 a US district court judge in Los Angeles ruled that there was enough to proceed with a copyright trial before a jury against Led Zeppelin’s surviving members – lead singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page, who are credited with composing 1971’s “Stairway to Heaven.”
Led Zeppelin won the suit, but last year the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new trial, saying the original judge gave “erroneous jury instructions.”
Rolling Stone has reported that the court will review that decision.