There are only so many notes musicians can choose from, so we understand that certain singles will sound like others. But some musicians sound a bit too much like others to simply be "sampling" (and many have the copyright infringement lawsuit to prove it).
"Blurred Lines" is arguably Robin Thicke's biggest hit to date, but not everyone was totally enamored with the catchy tune (aside from feminists everywhere). The family of late soul singer Marvin Gaye sued Thicke for copyright infringement over the Grammy-nominated song, saying it was too similar to Gaye's 1977 hit "Got to Give It Up." In a surprising move, Thicke then countersued Gaye's family to protect the song. Although some settlement has been reached, litigation is still pending. Most recently, more than 200 musicians, including R. Kelly and members of bands Linkin Park and the Black Crowes, filed a brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Los Angeles to express concern about the case's ruling. They said the case could have "adverse impact on their own creativity, on the creativity of future artists, and on the music industry in general."
Who doesn't know the theme song to the Ghostbusters movies? C'mon now, admit it — you're singing it now, aren't you? Bet you didn't know, though, that the Oscar-nominated theme song recorded by Ray Parker Jr. was so similar to Huey Lewis' "I Want a New Drug" that Lewis successfully sued Parker Jr. In an interesting turn of events, Parker Jr. sued Lewis right back when Lewis broke their confidentiality agreement by discussing the suit on VH1's Behind the Music.
For Jet fans, "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" is known as the band's most successful song. For detractors, however (and even more than a few reticent fans), the track bears uncanny similarities to the 1977 Iggy Pop song "Lust for Life." Jet took an unique tactic in refuting the theory — they claimed they actually ripped off Motown songs like "You Can't Hurry Love" by The Supremes much more.
Here's one of those examples that bears the question, "How much sampling is too much sampling?" It's kind of the gray area in the world of music plagiarism, so it's hard to know when to make that distinction. For now, David Guetta's 2012 song "Play Hard" featuring Ne-Yo and Akon is considered to have "heavily" sampled the 1998 single "Better Off Alone" by Dutch group Alice DeeJay.
"Big Pimpin'" was a big hit for Jay Z in 2000, even earning the honor of being named one of Rolling Stones' top 500 songs of all time. Unfortunately, the song isn't without its fair share of litigation. Perhaps what makes the song so good is its distinctive underlying hook — a hook that comes from the Egyptian song "Khosara Khosara." Originally written by Egyptian composer Baligh Hamdi, the song rights may actually belong to Hamdi's heirs, who claim Jay Z compromised their moral rights by sampling the song.
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