Are Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars trying to avoid a legal battle?
In the strange world of songwriting, where no one quite seems to know what the rules are, creative types are still reeling from when Blurred Lines songwriters Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were found guilty of plagiarising elements of a Marvin Gaye song and were subsequently fined $7.4 million.
In what appears to be a move to ensure the same doesn’t happen to those already involved with mega hit Uptown Funk, five more artists have been added to the credits of the song – specifically the five members of a band named The Gap Band who had a hit in the 70s called Oops Upside Your Head, which sounds vaguely like Uptown Funk’s famous hook “uptown funk you up” in parts.
A claim was put forward by the band’s publisher, Minder Music.
Sources tell Billboard that the claim, which Minder filed into YouTube’s content management system sometime in February, put the song’s ownership splits at more than 100 percent. In those situations, YouTube stops paying publishers and moves the proceeds into an escrow account. The settlement, which sources say gives 17 percent to the “Oops” writers, frees up those monies, albeit with different songwriter shares going forward.
As for that Blurred Lines impact:
“Everyone is being a little more cautious. Nobody wants to be involved in a lawsuit. Once a copyright dispute goes to a trial, [if a jury is used], it is subject to be decided by public opinion — and no longer resolved based entirely on copyright law.”
Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars have, in the past, spoken of how the longest running #1 of the 2010s came from a gruelling seven month writing process, and was built from the ground up – starting with a simple guitar lick one of Bruno’s band members played while on tour.
It’s easy to see how artists could accidentally slip up and incorporate more of their influences into their songwriting than is legally allowed while dealing with stressful tour schedules, time restraints and unpredictable writing sessions. It would appear those involved with Uptown Funk only had good intentions and, with this move, have set about giving appropriate credit where it’s due.
Will preventative measures like this become a future staple of songwriting?