When copyright infringement claims got ugly between Robin Thicke and the family of late singer Marvin Gaye over Robin’s “Blurred Lines” song last summer, publishing company Sony/ATV was pulled into the middle of the drama as well. As previously reported, Sony/ATV holds the publishing rights to both Robin’s “Blurred Lines” and Marvin’s “Got To Give It Up” and a couple of other tracks, which Robin is also being accused of copying from Marvin. The Gayes felt that Sony/ATV failed to uphold their fiduciary duty and failed to remain a neutral party in the dispute. As a result, the family requested that Sony/ATV relinquish their rights to distribute Marvin’s song catalog and forfeit all profits from “Blurred Lines.”
“Not only did EMI (owned by Sony/ATV) fail to bring this action, which is necessary to carry out EMI’s duties to protect the Gaye Family’s copyrights,” reads court papers filed on behalf of the Gaye family. “EMI attempted to dissuade the Gaye Family from pursuing this action by repeated threats and tactics to intimidate the Gaye Family and its representatives.”
“There is a strong likelihood that conflicts of interest, such as the one in the present case, will arise again between the EMI Defendants and the Gaye Family. Based upon the blatant and egregious breach of the EMI Defendants’ fiduciary duty and their covenant of good faith and fair dealing, the EMI Defendants have proven that they cannot be trusted to remain neutral and impartial, and that they are unworthy of the level of trust and professional conduct which is required of a copyright administrator charged with protecting the Gaye Family’s important interests in copyrighted works created by Marvin Gaye. The Gaye Family should not be compelled to remain in this contractual relationship.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the battle over “Blurred Lines” is far from over; however, Sony/ATV recently reached a settlement agreement with Marvin’s family. Terms of the settlement agreement were not made public, but from the looks of things, the publishing company will no longer have to defend itself against the Gayes. Sony isn’t totally in the clear yet though. As things continue to progress with the case between the Gayes and Robin, the company may be asked to explain exactly why they didn’t find the songs to be similar.