‘Blurred Lines’ and fuzzy logic on musical tributes; YikYak goes big time


    Will a lawsuit stemming from one of last year’s biggest songs be a death knell for musical creativity, or is it just about paying more than respect to your musical influences?

    I sat down with NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller to try to bring “Blurred Lines” into focus.

    A Los Angeles jury decided this week that Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke did more than try to “evoke an era” and pay homage to Marvin Gaye when they gave “Blurred Lines” a backbeat, bass line and percussion seemingly separated at birth from the 1977 soul classic “Got To Give It Up.” Gaye’s family was awarded $7.3 million, a sum Rolling Stone notes is the largest copyright infringement award since Michael Bolton ripped off the Isley Brothers to the tune of $5.4 million. 

    The songwriters said the dance-pop ode to the time-honored pursuits of smoking weed and corrupting “good girls” came entirely from their own brains, but Gaye’s family successfully argued that the song was more ripoff than tribute. 

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    Opinions on the decision seem split — even among those who acknowledge the two songs sound more than coincidentally alike are wary of the ruling, saying it could have a chilling effect on musical creativity.

    For their part, the Gaye family is seeking an injunction halting future sales of “Blurred Lines,” which is probably an idea we can all get behind. 

    In other “What is this strange new world?” media news this week, the anonymous message sharing app Yik Yak made the Sunday New York Times, virtually ensuring its mostly millennial users will toss it aside like so much MySpace now that it’s gone mainstream and their parents know about it.

    If you’re not familiar with Yik Yak, imagine standing in front of a student commons building on a college campus and listening to nearby conversations for a while. Yik Yak lets its anonymous users broadcast messages to other users within a small geographic area. 

    It’s mostly “check out the hot sorority girls on College Avenue” type stuff, which isn’t surprising since two college dudes invented it in their dorm room, but like everything else on the Internet, it can be a tool for bullies. With the New York Times leading the way, look for more concern-trolling, “the latest app parents need to know about” pieces headed your way.

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