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'Blurred Lines' composers sue over Marvin Gaye, Funkadelic songs

Singer Robin Thicke performs on NBC's "Today" show in midtown New York, July 30, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Singer Robin Thicke performs on NBC's "Today" show in midtown New York, July 30, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The composers of the hit song "Blurred Lines" have preemptively sued the owners of songs by late soul singer Marvin Gaye and funk band Funkadelic, asking a California federal court to rule that the chart-topping track does not violate any copyrights.

"Blurred Lines," released in March by R&B singer Robin Thicke, rapper T.I. and singer-producer Pharrell Williams, is the second-best selling song track this year with more than 4.6 million copies sold in the United States.

The lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles late on Thursday, alleges that the owners of Gaye's 1977 hit "Got to Give It Up" and Funkadelic's 1974 song "Sexy Ways" have threatened legal action over copyright infringement if the composers of "Blurred Lines" do not pay a monetary settlement.

"Being reminiscent of a 'sound' is not copyright infringement. The intent in producing 'Blurred Lines' was to evoke an era," the lawsuit states.

Thicke's raunchy, percussive R&B song sung in a falsetto has reached No. 1 on the song charts around the world including the United States, Britain and Germany. Its official video on YouTube has also been viewed more than 140 million times.

The lawsuit asks the court to declare that "Blurred Lines" does not infringe on either "Sexy Ways" or "Got to Give It Up" and that the owners of the songs do not have standing to later sue.

"Sexy Ways," written by George Clinton and Grace Cook, is owned by Bridgeport Music Inc. "Got to Give It Up" is owned by Gaye's children, Frankie Christian Gaye, Marvin Gaye III and Nona Marvisa Gaye.

Clinton, leader of the Parliament-Funkadelic funk collective, supported the "Blurred Lines" composers on Twitter and criticized Bridgeport Music head Armen Boladian.

"No sample of #Funkadelic's 'Sexy Ways' in @RobinThicke's 'Blurred Lines' - yet Armen Boladian thinks on Thursday.

A message left by Reuters with Bridgeport Music was not immediately returned. Gaye's children could not immediately be reached for comment.

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Sandra Maler)

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