It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’ve been busy promoting my short film, “An American Piano”, which is on the last leg of it’s world tour (next stop TIFF Kids 2015). I thought I’d weigh in my thoughts on the ramifications of the “Blurred Lines” case. No, not the issues with it promoting sexual assault. The other problem with the song. You know, the little plagiarism case. Like you do.
Recently a judgement of over US$7.4 million was awarded to the decedents of Marvin Gaye (whom the songwriters of “Blurred Lines” were always open about getting their inspiration from). I’m not going to argue the relative merits of the case, which is similar to Apple vs Microsoft/Samsung “look and feel” argument (and for those not in the know, Apple lost to Microsoft, but won against Samsung). Nor am I going to point out that this means that the band Journey could sue every pop songwriter for ripping off their “four to the floor” style on “Don’t stop believing”.
Don’t believe me? Check this out:
So, yeah, the music industry has a more liberal view of plagiarism than the rest of us do. But, what really interests me is this next statement:
Pharrell Williams has warned that “the entertainment industry as we know it will be frozen in litigation” if this becomes a precedent. “The verdict handicaps any creator out there who is making something that might be inspired by something else. This applies to fashion, music, design… anything.”
OK. So, now I’m listening. And you know what. I agree with him – to a degree. I come from a background in Art, where young artists learn their craft through copying the masters. But, this is education. Through this process, we find our voice. The first script I ever wrote was a sequel to The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the second script I wrote started out as a take on Eye of the Beholder, and ended up a terrible miss-mash of every dark thriller I so happened to watch that day. And a few years ago Paul and I made a fan-film for Silent Hill. And we both learned priceless information from it. But, we never monetized it. Never claimed it as our original work. Which is what the songwriters behind “Blurred Lines” did.
Let me show you an example of what “inspired by” looks like.
Let’s look at the inspiration:
And now let’s look at the homage:
And it’s perfect. It has all the same elements. The comparisons of sex to physical exercise. The awkwardly funny music video. They are both disco songs. But, they are different.